News that an Army officer that is a Muslim was responsible for the fatal shooting of 12 people at Fort Hood, Texas, brought strong condemnation from a local Islamic leader.
Imam Balil Ali, prayer leader of the Gainesville Islamic Culture Center on E.E. Butler Parkway, said such violent acts in no way represent the teachings of his faith.
“Islam is completely against this,” Ali said. “We condemn this act. This is not for the sake of pleasing Allah. ... This is not how Islam is taught and not how it is supposed to be spread. In no way is Islam for killing innocent people.”
The shooting suspect was identified as Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan. The afternoon rampage at the base left 12 people dead and 31 wounded.
Hasan, 39, an Army psychiatrist, was wounded and is listed in critical condition at a nearby hospital. He was said to be upset with an impending deployment overseas. An Imam in Silver Spring, Md., told the Associated Press that he attended a mosque with Hasan, whom he said was a lifelong Muslim.
Ali said he is “troubled” when news of violent acts involving Muslims makes headlines.
“We’ve worked too many hours and years in Gainesville to have such a setback as this,” he said. “People come to Islam every day, but it does not promote this. We are involved in our communities. ... The people who know us stand in solidarity with us. ... There are people who are witness for us because we are a witness against people who do these type of acts.
“This won’t set Islam back in the least. We’re going to be the ones to speak out against them.”
Ali said the Gainesville center draws some 100 Muslim worshippers weekly from around Northeast Georgia.
Managing Editor Keith Albertson and The Associated Press contributed to this report.