Crossroads Muslims call for peace, justice

Carolina Astrain By Carolina Astrain

Sept. 14, 2012 at 4:14 a.m.
Updated Sept. 16, 2012 at 4:16 a.m.

In Omar Rachid's eyes, the protesters behind the rioting in Europe and the Middle East are no different than those who ravaged Lebanon.

"I experienced the civil war in Lebanon," the Victoria resident said. "They are thugs terrorizing their own people, they thrive on unrest and lawless government."

President Barack Obama said he would "stand fast" against killing of four Americans and attacks on U.S. embassies Friday morning.

"He's keeping a cool head and employing all forms of diplomacy," Rachid said.

U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens was among the four killed when the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya, was stormed by militants.

Rachid said he doesn't believe Americans should condemn the Middle Eastern countries involved in the violent protests.

"I have seen some postings on Facebook that say 'OK let's just go bomb everywhere,'" Rachid said. "That's no way to resolve a conflict."

An anti-Islam video has been blamed for sparking protests across the Middle East and North Africa and attacks on American diplomatic missions in several Middle Eastern cities.

In Tripoli, a crowd set fire to a Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurant owned by one of Rachid's family friends.

"When I was there last year I actually visited that location," Rachid said. "I'm sure he's OK, but I haven't heard otherwise."

The video originally posted in July was re-posted by a Egyptian-born Coptic Christian named Morris Sadek on his website.

The trailer was translated into Arabic and portrays Muhammad, the most important prophet in Islam, as a womanizer, homosexual and a child abuser.

"I don't think the video has caused much outrage, I think the events have been planned for months," said Keith Akins, assistant professor of Criminal Justice at the University of Houston-Victoria. "They pulled the video out to whip up the crowd to cover up their behavior."

Three days after the 11th anniversary of 9/11, the University of Texas-Austin and North Dakota State evacuated their students Friday morning.

University of Texas officials said they received the call about 8:35 a.m. from a man with a Middle Eastern accent claiming to be with al-Qaida.

"These are not crazy people, not people who act on the spur of the moment," Atkins said. "This has been planned for a long time."

The professor said the dialogue of the country has turned to the protection of free speech.

"Should we ban the mocking of Islam?" Atkins said. "If you are not free to say something that offends people, then you do not have free speech."

Imam Osama Hassan of the Victoria mosque said he has not seen the anti-Islam video.

"You can have free speech, but you always need to have a limit," Hassan said. "This is a really bad over-reaction," Hassan said.

Hassan said in his Friday evening sermon he condemned the actions of protesters involved in the embassy attacks and killings.

Both Victoria Muslims agreed that the prophet Muhammad would have been ashamed and upset at the protesters' behavior.

"There are innocent people in the mix," Rachid said. "I encourage those government and new democracies to bring those attackers to justice."

Related stories:

Violence erupts at protests of anti-Muslim film, click HERE

Arab Winter? Unrest sparks debate on US policy, click HERE

Anger for radical Islam ties players behind prophet film, click HERE

Question of the day: How concerned are you about the protests in the Middle East?, click HERE



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