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Published: Mar 16, 2006 12:30 AM
Modified: Mar 16, 2006 07:55 AM

Muslims deny Quran supports Taheri-azar
Local Muslim leaders condemn attempts to link Islam's holy book to the actions of a man who hit nine people as he drove a sport utility vehicle through the heart of the UNC-Chapel Hill campus earlier this month.

The Islamic Association of Raleigh called a news conference Wednesday to take issue with Mohammed Taheri-azar's assertion in letters to news outlets that the Quran justified his attack.

In one letter, Taheri-azar wrote that he had read the Quran's 114 chapters 15 times. Marc Conaghan of the Muslim American Public Affairs Council said he didn't read it closely enough.

"This is totally untrue," he said.

Sanctity of life is taken seriously in the Quran, said Imran Aukhil of the Islamic Association of Raleigh.

Aukhil quoted from the Quran: "Whoever kills a man unjustly ... it is as if he has killed all of humanity, and whoever saves a life, it is as if he has saved all of humanity."

The panel sought to distance the Muslim community from Taheri-azar and avoid a backlash. "Muslims in general should not be held responsible because Muslims in general have not made any mistakes," said Ihab Saad of the Muslim American Society.

Saad said he will pray for Taheri-azar even though he has tarnished the image of Islam.

"We feel angry in the way a father feels angry when a son does something wrong," he said. But he spoke of the need to "give support to your brother whether he's oppressed or the oppressor."

Hani Chohan of the Islamic Association said there are no plans to communicate with Taheri-azar in Central Prison.

(People interested in learning more about Islam are invited to an Open House from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday at the Islamic Association of Raleigh, 808 Atwater Street. Details: www.islam1.org or 834-9572.)

Staff writer Bonnie Rochman can be reached at 829-4871 or brochman@newsobserver.com.
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