I am writing from Uppsala, Sweden, where Phyllis and I have been taking part in an "Interfaith Summit on the Climate Crisis" called by the Church of Sweden and addressed by the Crown Princess. There has been a rich interchange and the signing of a Manifesto aimed at affecting governmental decisions to prevent global scorching.
On Shabbat Morning, Phyllis led a chanting service in which adherents of many traditions took part. We ended with the Mourners Kaddish in Time of War and Violence, with special concern and grief for the dead of Mumbai, including those killed at the Chabad Lubavitch center. If you wish to join in this Kaddish with us, it is at the end of this message.
Over the years, I have noticed a pattern like this: When some terrorist group claiming roots in Islam commits a mass murder, Muslim organizations denounce those actions. The "mainstream" US media ignore such denunciations. Then some people denounce the Muslim world for the absence of condemnations against terrorism, and grow new fury against Islam.
In the hope of forestalling this sequence, I am sending (below) some quotations and citations of Muslim responses to the Mumbai murders.
Some thoughts of my own: There is a great danger that the government of India will respond with some sort of attack on Pakistan, inflaming incredibly dangerous conflict between two nuclear powers. Instead, a sane, responsible, and worthy Indian response would be to invite a full reevaluation of the Kashmir question with UN participation in seeking a decent solution responsive to the desires of the people of Kashmir, plus a serious effort at cooperation with the Pakistani government (which must itself respond with the same commitment) to find and punish as criminals the murderers of Mumbai.
As for the US and the West generally, there must be an effort to make available major reinvestment funds, especially through microloans and other means of grass-roots empowerment, to repair the social and physical infrastructure of the frontier territories of Pakistan and Afghanistan. For that is where rage against the West is rising because of US & NATO attacks that devastate local civilian communities.
The horror and anger we feel in this crisis can be turned toward more violence --- or toward healing.
North American Muslim Organizations
Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR):
CAIR Condemns Mumbai Attacks
Muslim Civil Rights Group Demands that Hostages Be
'Released Immediately and Unconditionally'
Council on American-Islamic Relations, November 27, 2008
A prominent national Islamic civil rights and advocacy group today condemned attacks on a number of sites in the Indian financial capital of Mumbai that left at least 100 people dead and many more injured.
The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) also called for the immediate and unconditional release of all hostages taken during the attacks. Witnesses say the attackers sought out American and British citizens.
In a statement, CAIR Executive Director Nihad Awad said:
"We condemn these cowardly attacks and demand that all hostages taken by the attackers be released immediately and unconditionally. We offer sincere condolences to the loved ones of those killed or injured in these senseless and inexcusable acts of violence against innocent civilians. American Muslims stand with our fellow citizens of all faiths in repudiating acts of terror wherever they take place and whomever they target."
The Washington-based group also asked the Indian government to protect all its citizens from the type of retaliatory attacks that have taken place following similar incidents in the recent past.
CAIR, America's largest Islamic civil liberties group, has 35 offices and chapters nationwide and in Canada. Its mission is to enhance the understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims, and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding.