MINNEAPOLIS - Twin Cities Somali Imams gathered at the Abubakar Islamic Center on 13th Avenue South on Monday to condemn the terrorist attack on a Kenya shopping mall.
The Imams wanted to separate themselves from the actions of the attackers in Nairobi.
Several network news crews, including NBC and CNN, attended the Imams' news conference because there have been unconfirmed reports that two of the attackers were Somali-Americans from the Twin Cities.
The Imams had nothing to say about the reports, except to deny that the two were anyone known in the community.
Imam Amdiresak Hashi of the Abubakar Islamic Center told reporters he doubted the two even existed. Their names reportedly surfaced from an al-Shabab Twitter account that has now been taken down.
"We call on Muslim youth to shun and reject to be lured into or recruited by extremist groups like al-Shabab," said Imam Amdisalam Adam of the Darulhijra Mosque. "We, the Somali community leaders in Minnesota, hereby strongly condemn the heinous acts that took place at the Westgate Mall in Nairobi, Kenya."
Hashi quoted the Koran.
"Whoever kills one soul, it is as (he) kills all human beings, all mankind and whoever saves one soul, it is as he saves all mankind."
Kenya native Ibrahim Baraki spoke most forcefully at the news conference.
"al-Shabab and these people who have committed this act of terror, they are nothing but criminals," said Baraki. "They are not Muslims. They do not represent Muslims. They may be carrying names that are Muslims or they may be similar to other Muslims in their look, but they are not Muslims because they have diverted from the teachings of Islam, which is to save life, not to destroy life."
"al-Shabab and extremists wherever they are, they must be hunted and they must be smoked out of the hole where they are hiding, whether they are in Somalia or anywhere else because they are a threat to world peace and nobody should condone what they are doing," Baraki added.
The Imams indicated quietly that they may be staging a demonstration this weekend of some kind against the violence in Kenya.
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