Muslim World League chief says Rushdie attack ‘unacceptable’ to Islam

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Secretary-General of the Muslim World League Muhammad bin Abdul Karim al-Issa said that the attack on acclaimed author Salman Rushdie in New York was “a crime that Islam does not accept” in an interview with Saudi news outlet Arab News.

“Islam is against violence and can never admit any method of violence. Religious and intellectual issues, including phrases that may read in full or partly as offensive, cannot never be dealt with in these violent ways,” al-Issa was quoted as saying on the sidelines of a conference on inter-religious dialogue in Rimini, Italy.

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Rushdie, 75, was set to deliver a lecture on artistic freedom at the Chautauqua Institution in western New York on August 12 when he was attacked and stabbed by a man who has been identified as Hadi Matar, a US-raised 24-year-old with Lebanese roots.

Rushdie has lived with a bounty on his head since his 1988 novel ‘The Satanic Verses,’ which prompted Iran’s then-leader Ali Khamenei to urge Muslims to kill him.

Al-Issa, who is also the president of the International Islamic Halal Organization and Saudi Arabia’s former Minister of Justice said that Islam is “opposed to violence.”

An avid activist against religious extremism, al-Issa has been commended by religious leaders and government officials for his efforts to promote peaceful coexistence among all people.

He said that religion is “the sense of man’s existence in this life, the sum of values based on particular principles, at the base of which there is not only a philosophy but also a religious source that comes from God.”

“For this we speak of values, both religion and the religious instinct. This also means the sense of faith in the human being,” he said, adding that love and passion are “central factors in religion.”

“The believer must love all others even if he does not agree with them. The believer knows that love and mercy are needed in this life. Love is life, coexistence, peace, harmony.”

The MWL chief also stressed the need for inter-religious dialogue to push for peaceful interfaith coexistence that “eliminates all misunderstandings and clarifies the truths both within and outside the Islamic world, both for Muslims and non-Muslims. Dialogue is the language of the reasonable, of the wise. If everyone practices it, we all get close and this approach takes away the fears of other people.”

He continued, “Even if each may be different from the other, there is no reason to be afraid or worried about the other person: We all share life on this earth and we must talk and understand each other. Differences between human beings go back to the creation of humanity. If God had wanted, he could have created only a single ethnic group or a single religion. But he didn’t, and we have to believe in his wisdom.”

He also wished for everyone “to live with dignity — all minorities — and that they are well integrated into the land where they live. We also hope that all governments around the world respect the rights of minorities and their cultural, religious and cultural specificities. We do not accept any minority in the world being offended, no matter if they are Muslim or not.”

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