LOS ANGELES: Attempting to focus fresh media attention on its message that American Muslims do not support terrorism, a network of Islamic organizations last week issued a fatwa, or religious edict, condemning such acts.
"We understand that the message has to be packaged in different ways and sent out in different mediums," explained Rabiah Ahmed, communications coordinator for the Council On American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), which organized a Washington, DC, press conference to announce the fatwa.
"The message of the fatwa isn't anything new," said Ahmed. "It was just another way for us to [make] that message clear."
Ahmed added that in the wake of the recent bombings in London and Egypt, American Muslim organizations were looking for a way to revitalize their position against terror, which they have been actively promoting since 9/11. The fatwa was chosen in part because "fatwa is a word that is often used in the media," she explained. "It's something that definitely sparks the interest of Americans."
Ahmed added that the fatwa was also designed to "clarify" to American Muslims what their responsibilities are in terms of fighting terrorism, as interpreted by top Islamic authorities. Part of that message is that Islam condemns not only terrorist acts, but also any cooperation with terrorists.
The fatwa "carries a lot of moral authority for Muslims because it's the top scholars interpreting the primary sources" of Islam, she said. "If there was any confusion in the [Muslim] community, this clarifies it."
Ahmed also said that the organizations were pleased with media coverage of the press conference.
"It went really well," she said. "We got a lot of coverage both in national media, but also in international media."
The fatwa was issued by the Fiqh Council of North America, an association of Islamic legal scholars.