29 June 2017

Europe's Muslims start to grapple with touchy issue: Islamic terrorism as a community problem

When 200 British Muslim imams declared earlier this month that they would refuse to say funeral prayers for the perpetrators of the recent terrorist attack near London Bridge, their statement marked a striking and unprecedented rejection of terrorism.

“We don’t take this matter very lightly,” says Qari Asim, an imam in the northern city of Leeds who signed the declaration. “But … we believe that the terrorists should not be accepted in our community, [either] in life or in death. We are trying everything possible to deter people” from violence.

The move signaled a significant change of tack. For many years, the almost universal reaction among European Muslims to the rising tide of jihadi violence has been to disclaim any responsibility on the part of Islam and the Islamic community.

But the attacks in Manchester and London “have shaken the Muslim community [in Britain] very deeply,” says Ziauddin Sardar, a London-based scholar of Islamic history. Now, Muslim leaders are beginning to tentatively acknowledge that their communities cannot shrug off all liability for the recent spate of terrorist attacks across Western Europe. [The Christian Science Monitor] Read more