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Radical Islamic group claims upcoming event is not a celebration of terrorism

By Jeremay Reynalds
web posted September 1, 2003

Organizers of an upcoming Islamic event in London dealing with the events of September 11, 2001 are reacting angrily to charges that the event is more of a celebration than a conference.

A poster promoting the event, scheduled for September 11, 2003, features pictures of the 19 hijhackers, whom it promotes as "The Magnificent 19."

Despite the apparently laudatory comments of the hijackers by Al-Muhajiroun, the radical Islamic sect based in London promoting the event, an official statement from the group insists that the upcoming event is not a celebration. To categorize it as such, the document insists, is just a distortion by the western media of the group's words.

The release reads, "Muslims only celebrate two days, Eid ul Fitr and Eid ul Adha and any other celebration is an innovation as far as Islam is concerned. Hence the event entitled the 'Magnificent 19' ... is not a celebration. This has not been suggested and this is not our intention."

Rather, event organizers claim, the day's event will commemorate the events of September 11, 2001. "It will examine its root causes and the driving force and motivation of the 19 men who partook in the operation, in order to have a clearer understanding and in order to discuss whether the continuation of the causes might result in a recurrence of such events, albeit by utilizing different ways and means."

While calling the hijackers "magnificent," the release had harsh words for President George Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair, calling them "the real terrorists and bandits."

The release said Bush and Blair have "indiscriminately murdered 1000's of innocent men, women and children in Afghanistan and Iraq, who have lied blatantly to their public, who are holding young and old in prisons without charge or any evidence, who have wasted the resources of their country and who have branded all those fighting for the liberation of their land and defending their lives and honor, as terrorists.

While event organizers agree the event is "controversial," they say that should not be a cause for concern.

The statement reads, "Controversy was never a reason to ban an event or arrest people. Rather than calling for a ban it would be wise for those who promote democracy and freedom to practice what they preach or admit the evident inconsistencies in the capitalist ideology and its failure to deal with simple problems."

According to the Al-Muhajiroun statement, everyone needs to really understand the purpose behind the upcoming conference. It is to "discuss the lives, motives and reasons behind the 19 men who partook in the events on the 11th of September 2001, as opposed to celebrating the operations themselves."

Omar Bakri Muhammad

Al-Muhajiroun, the event sponsor, has been linked to British suicide bombers in Israel and has also issued calls to overthrow the British government. The group did not respond to a request for comment.The man behind Al-Muhajiroun, Omar Bakri Muhammad, was born in Aleppo, Syria, in 1958 and grew up in a wealthy Muslim family, becoming a serious student of Islam and the Koran. He received his B.A. in Shari'ah and the foundations of Islamic law from Shari'ah University in Damascus, obtaining a master's degree in Islamic jurisprudence from the University of Al-Imam Al-U'zaie in Beirut.

According to the Middle East Media Research Institute, Muhammad portrays himself as being the spokesman for bin Laden's International Islamic Front for Jihad against Jews and Crusaders and according to MEMRI has admitted that the organization raises funds for the Hamas, the Islamic Jihad, and is "in touch" with the Hizbullah.

According to MEMRI, Muhammad has lived in London since 1985 and preaches at a number of London mosques. He also routinely presents himself as a spokesman for the International Islamic Front, which he describes as being the political wing of Osama bin Laden's Islamic Front for Jihad against Jews and Crusaders.

Jeremy Reynalds is a freelance writer and the founder and director of Joy Junction, New Mexico's largest emergency homeless shelter. He has a master's degree in communication from the University of New Mexico and is pursuing his PhD in intercultural education at Biola University in Los Angeles. He is married with five children and lives in Albuquerque, New Mexico. His work can be viewed here and weekly at www.americasvoices.org. He may be contacted by e-mail at reynalds@joyjunction.org.

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