In 2009, the Federal Bureau of Investigation gave its community leadership award to Mohamed Abdul-Azeez of the Sacramento Area League of Associated Muslims (SALAM) Islamic Center in California’s capital. Now the Egyptian-born imam has responded to the bombing of the Boston Marathon.
Abdul-Azeez told the Sacramento Bee that he posted on Facebook his “deepest condolences to the families of the victims of today’s explosions in Boston.” The eight-year-old victim could have been his son, whom he had considered taking to the event. The imam and his wife watched the news in tears, “but ever since this thing went down, I don’t want to have to apologize for any crime that’s been committed. I’m weary of having to deal with this pressure all the time, whenever something stupid happens in the world. I feel similar to a gun owner worried about gun laws all the time because people are shooting people, or a Jew who has to worry about the atrocities being committed in Israel.”
Steve Magagnini of the Bee asked Abdul-Azeez if he saw any connection between the Chechen suspects and “their so-called Muslim identity.”
“The whole thing has a fishy stench to it,” the imam said. “The story is riddled with inconsistencies.” Abdul Azeez said the imam at the Islamic Society of Boston Cultural Center told him that “those two kids” never attended a service there. They might have attended a smaller mosque in Cambridge, “but they are not masjid-going people.”
Further, “If the FBI has known about these guys for years and received intelligence about them from the Russians, how come they’ve been allowed to operate with impunity? And terrorists from Islamic traditions don’t run, don’t hide. They take a bullet in their chest. That’s been a very consistent pattern.”
Asked what he told his congregation, the imam responded, “I don’t want evil to control and define our discourse. An act of terrorism is not as widespread as the beautiful things and gestures of kindness people do daily. Don’t ignore the acts of evil, but don’t give them as much weight.”
Muslims “need to take our precautions, but we shouldn’t hide, for we are guilty of nothing!” Muslims “need to be going out more, visiting places more and engaging people.” Non-hijabi sisters should wear hijabs, mothers should shop for groceries and “students, time to organize those Islam awareness events on campus.” And “may God instill empathy, love and perseverance in everyone’s heart.”
The imam’s reference to the Boston “explosions,” implies it all might have been an accident. And “something stupid” is a curious description for a deliberate bombing that killed three, including the eight-year-old, and maimed many others.
Abdul-Azeez fails to name the “two kids,” implies that they are not real Muslims, and makes no effort to explain the alleged inconsistencies in the story. More significant is his observation that “terrorists from Islamic traditions don’t run, don’t hide.” So if the two kids had been genuine Islamic terrorists, they would have taken “a bullet in their chest” for the team.
The imam issues no specific condemnation of the attacks, which of course left him feeling like “a Jew who has to worry about the atrocities being committed in Israel.” All told, quite a performance for the medical doctor, who earned a degree in political science and history at Ohio State University and a master’s degree at the University of Chicago.
Mohamed Abdul-Azeez is not the only Islamic leader to be honored by the FBI. Last year the Bureau gave its community service award to Farruk Saeed, chairman of SALAM, which co-hosts events with CAIR.
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