On January 13, 2015 Pacifica Institute in Los Angeles, in collaboration Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez and Bayan Claremont Islamic Graduate School hosted a panel discussion titled, “Muslim Voices against Extremism” in response to the shootings and terror attacks on January 7th, 2015 in Paris, France. The purpose of the event was to give Muslim leaders and scholars an opportunity to share their thoughts and opinions on the tragic events and the rise of extremism.
Among the distinguished panelists were Dr. Jihad Turk, Professor at Bayan Claremont Graduate School; Dr. Muzammil H. Siddiqi of Fiqh Council of North America; Dr. Ozgur Koca, Professor at Bayan Claremont Islamic Graduate School and Imam Sayed Mostafa al-Qazwini from Shia Muslim Council of Southern California. The discussion was moderated by Dr. Sophia Pandya, Califronia State University in Long Beach.
Prior to the event, Rida Hamida, community liaison at Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez’s office delivered a special message and was later awarded a Certificate of Recognition on behalf of the Congresswoman. Dr. Siddiqi described the common misconception of Islam being a religion that encourages the killing of individuals and groups and called for the need promote the spirit of mutual respect between different faiths and cultures. According to Siddiqi, “Islam affirms the sanctity of human life and requires due and fair process of law”. Dr. Koca discussed the core teachings of Islam, and stated that“no religion is violent when it centralizes around compassion”. Imam al-Qazwini deliberated on the rise of extremism in Islamic societies, including the false claims echoed by various extremist groups, which he attributed largely to ignorance, lack of pluralism and democracy. Dr. Turk gave a detailed history of Prophet Muhammad’s life, and his message of peace and reconciliation in a time where social injustices was widespread.