Religion is at the forefront of the refugee crisis especially now following the Paris attacks. Many of the Syrian refugees are Muslim while others are Christian.
Religious experts explained there is a difference between the beliefs of the general Islamic population and the terrorists behind the attacks.
“Our politicians should not take the bait. None of us should take the bait. This cannot be a clash of religious organizations,” said Akan Malici, a Professor of Political Science at Furman University, about the fear ISIS has instilled globally.
Akan Malici has lived in the Upstate for years with his family as a part of the Islamic Society of Greenville. It’s a religious group that he says is growing in our area. But he believes their faith is continually misinterpreted.
“God could have made us all a like. He created different nations and tribes. He did that so that different nations could come to know each other and compete for the good,” he explained.
Malici says terror attacks by a very small percentage of Muslim people tarnishes the grander Islamic population, including many Syrian refugees. He says groups like ISIS want to make the divide between religious groups. He says they do that by targeting Muslim people, just as much as they do any other religion.
“These are enemies of all of us. These are enemies of humanity,” Malici explained.
The Greenville Islamic community says as soon as they heard of the attacks, they prepared for religious backlash that they are now seeing and like they have seen before. “A car passed by our mosque yelling profanities at children playing outside of the Mosque. People are anxious and nervous,” said the professor.
Sami Alkoutami, a Furman student was born in America but is from Syria. Both of his parents were born in Syria and he has many family members there. He’s a Christian, but he has Muslim family and has studied Islam himself.
He says he understands the fear behind Syrian refugees and their religion. “As an American citizen, I want my safety to be protected as well.”
But he adds, just as in Christianity, the small number of radicals does not apply to the millions of other Islamic people. He hopes people will begin to see the radicals are who the refugees are fleeing.
“They want to leave a country that has been ruined and they’re not trying to ruin other countries,” said Sami.
He also says growing up, he never saw conflict between friends and family who were Muslim and Christian. So he believes the terror groups are getting what they want, Islamic people and refugees are pushed away.
Sami says he knows firsthand what the refugees go through, day to day. He has family in areas overrun with refugees.
“Some of them go a couple of days without water, electricity and food. My sister just told me sometimes there are 25 people staying in one small room.” He said, “You can’t hinder people’s opportunity for hope and survival or to escape to start a new life.”
“Isn’t that what America is all about? Coming here, doing the whole American dream and working hard and being successful.”
The Islamic Society of Greenville released a statement following the terror attacks in Paris:
“The Islamic Society of Greenville, Greenville, SC is shocked and dismayed by yesterday’s news of a series of horrific crimes committed by terrorist group(s) in France. We express deep sympathy for hundreds of those who have been directly affected by these senseless and heinous acts of barbarism that can only be described as crazy and inhumane. Our prayers and condolences go out to the loved ones who are in a state of shock and disbelief over these events as they have unfolded in last 24 hours. May Allah (God) give them patience and bring peace and tranquility in their lives. We are with the entire nation of France who have suffered by the brutal acts of a few deranged minds and support their efforts in bringing these perpetrators to justice as soon as possible.
Killing of innocent lives is not supported by any religion let alone Islam which has so clearly condemned in many verses in Quran, for example verse 5:32 states that:
“We ordained for the children of Israel that if anyone slew a person, unless it is for murder or spreading mischief in the land, it would be as if he slew the entire people. And if anyone saved a life, it would be as if he saved the life of the whole people. Then although there came to them our messengers with clear signs, yet, even after that, many of them continued to commit excesses in the land.”
We believe terrorist acts of these kinds are an insult to the basic human values and any ideology or school of thought which promotes or protects such acts should be strongly condemned by all those who believe that no one has a right to take an innocent person’s life regardless of what their beliefs and motives may have been. This kind of irrational ideology is as foreign to us as it is to any civilized human being belonging to any religion or any school of thought.”
Islamic Society of Greenville
There is also one from the Muslim students at Furman University:
“The Muslim Student Association (MSA) at Furman University and its Faculty Advisor Dr. Akan Malici from the Political Science Department are horrified by the terrorist attacks that took place in Paris, France on Friday. We, as Muslims at Furman University, just like Muslims anywhere, condemn these horrific acts of violence. We pray for the victims and their families and we stand together with the victims and the people of France and we have and will stand together with whoever is affected by such crimes. We wish that perpetrators of these crimes will be brought to justice.
We agree with the statements issued by the leading Muslim Organizations in America, the Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA) and the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA). Their statements are here:
We are Muslims and our Islamic values are values of justice, compassion and love. Violence and killing is abhorrent to Islam and as Muslims we believe that the taking of one innocent life is equal to the killing of all of humanity. The terrorists who are committing barbarous acts like those in Paris, are not only enemies of the West, they are enemies of humanity. We will continue to be committed to do whatever we can against terrorists who are acting in the name of religion and bringing havoc to humanity. “