Suburban mosque leaders denounce Orlando killings

Suburban Muslim leaders are condemning the killing of 49 patrons at a gay nightclub in Orlando by a man who law enforcement officials said had leanings toward radical Islamic terrorism.

In addition, the head of a Chicago-area branch of a prominent Muslim civil rights and advocacy group issued a statement Monday disagreeing that supporting gay people is religiously impermissible under Islam — a belief he said is held by most of about 8 million Muslims in the United States.

Ahmed Rehab, executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations Chicago, said there should be solidarity with the right to freedom, safety and prosperity for all people, “specifically and explicitly including those with a sexual orientation we may not like or disagree with.”

Leaders of Islamic Foundation North in Libertyville, Islamic Society of the Northwest Suburbs in Rolling Meadows, Mecca Center in Willowbrook, Islamic Center of Wheaton and Amhadiyya Muslim Community in Glen Ellyn are denouncing what authorities say was Omar Mateen's shooting rampage at the Pulse nightclub early Sunday in Orlando.

Vaseem Iftekhar, president of Islamic Foundation North, issued a statement on behalf of the mosque.

“The (Islamic Foundation North) community stands in solidarity with the friends and families of the Orlando shooting victims,” the statement says. “We are devastated by this inhumane act of violence that has taken place and mourn for those lost and injured by the shooting. We offer our condolences to the families and pray for them during this time of indescribable hardship.”

Iftekhar said the mosque will collect money for the victims' families with a basket circulated during evening prayers. He said the money will be forwarded to a “reliable charity” for distribution.

“I'm going to keep announcing it for at least a couple of weeks,” Iftekhar said.

Imam Hassan Aly of the Mecca Center in Willowbrook said members will talk about the Orlando shootings at their interfaith Ramadan dinner at 6:30 p.m. Thursday at Ashton Place, also in the village. Mecca Center condemns violence of any kind, he said, and the killings are not part of “the Islam that we know.”

“No violent action can be justified,” Aly said.

Imam Shamshad A. Nasir announced a prayer service for the Orlando victims from 7:40 to 8:45 p.m. Tuesday hosted by Amhadiyya Muslim Community at Masjid Baet-ul-Jaamay, 2S510 Route 53 in Glen Ellyn.

Rehab acknowledged his support of the gay community could be controversial among those with Islamic beliefs.

He wrote a statement on Facebook that began with a quote of what he perceived as a common Muslim reaction to the killings: “I totally condemn the disgusting attack, but it's haram (religiously impermissible) to show solidarity with a sinful lifestyle.”

Rehab said his position is “not as dramatic as a third party would want it to be. It's edgy, but I'm not going to get excommunicated for it.”

He said other religions also disapprove of gay lifestyles.

FBI Director James Comey said Monday that Mateen had “strong indications” of leaning toward radical Islamic terrorism.

•The Associated Press and Daily Herald editor Bob Smith contributed to this report.

Leaders of Islamic Foundation North in Libertyville say they condemn the killing of 49 patrons of a gay nightclub in Orlando by a man who allegedly leaned toward radical Islamic terrorism.
Ahmed Rehab, executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations Chicago.
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