Source: the-japan-news.com | The Yomiuri Shimbun
The recent case in which two Japanese men were taken hostage by a group believed to be the Islamic State has drawn widespread criticism from Muslims living in Japan.
“Islam does not condone persecution or violence,” Muhammed Rasit Alas, a 30-year-old imam dressed in white, told devotees at the Mosque of Tokyo Camii on Friday. It was the first Friday service held at the mosque since a video threatening the murder of the hostages was released.
About 200 Muslims listened earnestly to Alas’ sermon, which closed with the words, “We hope they will be released safely as soon as possible.”
Japan is home to an estimated 100,000 Muslims, according to the Japan Muslim Association. The population has been growing mainly due to an inflow from Southeast Asian countries.
There are fears among the community that the hostage crisis is creating a negative image of all followers of the Islamic faith.
“I’m worried about [all] Muslims being misperceived as terrorists and my son, who is in primary school, being bullied or experiencing other trouble,” said Serdar Basara, 41, a company president originally from Turkey who participated in the service.
On Wednesday, soon after the case came to light, the mosque released a statement on its website that such actions by terrorist organizations “have a serious impact on Muslim communities all over the world and put Muslims in a precarious position.”
A Muslim organization in Aichi Prefecture has received several harassing phone calls. According to the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, callers made such remarks as “Get out of Japan.”
“We want Japanese people understand what Islam is really about,” staff member Anees Ahmad Nadeem said at a press conference Friday.