Masjid Muhammad, known as the oldest established Muslim community in the United States, has issued a statement condemning the attack against Charlie Hebdo magazine in Paris. This statement comes to us from Fleming El-Amin, a community leader, in Winston-Salem.

The statement from Imam Talib Shareef, leader of Masjid Muhammad, can be read in its entirety after the jump:

We extend our heartfelt prayers and condolences to the people of France and the families of those murdered, and we stand with the world in strongly condemning the criminal, barbaric, cowardly terrorists attack. This attack which left twelve people dead and several wounded to include two policemen and eight journalists is an attack on all of humanity and freedom of speech globally.

We certainly thank, our Secretary of State John Kerry for immediately quoting an Imam in France who without hesitation condemned the attacks and honored the victims. It doesn’t matter who the attackers are or what they claim, their actions are criminal, inhumane, and not condoned by Islam, Christianity, Judaism or any of the other beautiful faith communities. Any person, no matter how desperate their situation, no matter how much their hearts are paining because of wrong that has been done to them, whether real or perceived, there is no justification for them to murder and make helpless, vulnerable, or innocent humans the target of their terror, the target of their hate or their violence. We must understand that everybody who picks up a gun and says “I’m going to defend my religious cause” is not necessarily an authority in the religion he or she claims.

While the facts reveal that the magazine company had been threatened and attacked in the past because of its derogatory references to Islam and its inaccurate depictions of the Prophet Muhammad, the actions of those identifying themselves as Muslims gravely misrepresent the beautiful religion of Islam. When Prophet Muhammad was attacked personally with physical harshness, he didn’t respond in any way close to how the attackers responded, rather he resisted and responded with prayers, kindness, mercy and forgiveness.

We urge radicals to stop inciting and carrying out hate and violence and instead work for peace, the betterment of humanity, and a better world. The enormous value and sacredness that God puts on human life should be caution enough to prevent these senseless acts of violence and killings.

It’s encouraging to see that the majority of Muslims all throughout this world are now standing up on the principle of Islam, the principle of peace, mercy, intelligent behavior, the conduct established for Muslims in the Qur’an and the life example of the prophet, and are letting the world hear us condemning those who are guilty. We have a responsibility to exhibit the best of our human and religious identity, by following the examples of Prophets Muhammad, Abraham, Moses and Jesus Christ, etc, peace be upon all of them.

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