Muslims in Albuquerque, New Mexico interviewed on Wednesday said they felt shock and shame at the arrest of a Muslim immigrant from Afghanistan in connection with the murders of four Muslim men, reports Reuters.
Shock, shame among some Muslims as Afghan accused of New Mexico murders (Reuters)
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Excerpt from Reuters: Police on Tuesday said they detained 51-year-old Muhammad Syed. A motive for the killings remains unclear, but police said he may have acted on personal grudges, possibly with intra-Muslim sectarian overtones. Syed denied being involved with any of the four killings when questioned by police. "We're in complete total disbelief. Speechless. You know, kind of embarrassed to say he was one of our own," said Mula Akbar, an Afghan-American businessman who said he had helped Syed settle in the city. "His hatred of Shi'ites might have had something to do with it," Akbar said. Syed was from the Sunni branch of Islam and prayed together at Albuquerque's Islamic Center of New Mexico (ICNM) mosque with most of the victims, three of whom were from the Shi'ite branch of Islam. All four victims were of Afghan or Pakistani descent. One was killed in November, the other three in the last two weeks.
According to TIME, the killings, which were originally feared to be anti-Muslim or anti-Asian hate crimes—set off alarms for Shi’ite Muslims across the country—many of whom hoped they had left sectarian violence behind when their families came to the U.S. One of the victims, Naeem Hussain, who was killed Aug. 5, was a refugee from Sunni-majority Pakistan who came to America in 2016 to flee persecution for his Shi’ite beliefs.
"We never thought this hatred was going to follow us here to America because this is the place where you can speak freely," says Mazin Khadim, president of Alzahra Islamic Center in Albuquerque, which caters to the city’s Shi’ite population. "We just never thought it was going to be the same here in America."
In Albuquerque Murders, American Shi'ite Muslims See Old Divides They Hoped to Leave Behind (TIME)
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Excerpt from TIME: Albuquerque police have cautioned that the motive for the killings is still unclear. The suspect, Muhammad Syed, 51—who moved to the U.S. from Afghanistan about five years ago—"knew the victims to some extent" and that "an interpersonal conflict" may have been to blame. But that has not quelled concerns and discussion among many Shi’ite Muslims in Albuquerque—and elsewhere in the U.S.—that centuries-old sectarian divides are manifesting in new ways for American Muslims. They argue that while anti-Shi’ite sentiment in the U.S. has not typically culminated in such violent acts, it has very much been present in Sunni-dominated mosques, student associations, and other places American Muslims gather.
In a related story, Salman Rushdie, whose novel “The Satanic Verses” drew death threats from Iran’s leader in the 1980s, was stabbed in the neck and abdomen Friday by a man who rushed the stage as the author was about to give a lecture in western New York, reports the Associated Press.
Author Salman Rushdie stabbed on lecture stage in New York (Associated Press)
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Excerpt from the Associated Press: A bloodied Rushdie, 75, was flown to a hospital and underwent surgery. His agent, Andrew Wylie, said the writer was on a ventilator Friday evening, with a damaged liver, severed nerves in an arm and an eye he was likely to lose. Police identified the attacker as Hadi Matar, 24, of Fairview, New Jersey. He was arrested at the scene and was awaiting arraignment. Matar was born a decade after “The Satanic Verses” was published. The motive for the attack was unclear, State police Maj. Eugene Staniszewski said. An Associated Press reporter witnessed the attacker confront Rushdie on stage at the Chautauqua Institution and punch or stab him 10 to 15 times as he was being introduced. The author was pushed or fell to the floor, and the man was arrested. Dr. Martin Haskell, a physician who was among those who rushed to help, described Rushdie’s wounds as “serious but recoverable.”
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