Local Islamic Leader Reacts to Protests in Middle East - WSET.com - ABC13

Local Islamic Leader Reacts to Protests in Middle East

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Lynchburg, VA - US missions around the Middle East are on high alert Friday as anti-American protests spread across the region. The demonstrations are fueled by an amateur film trailer made in the US, called "Innocence of Muslims."

In Egypt, protesters clashed with police but were kept well back from the US embassy by barbed wire and concrete blocks.

In Yemen, security forces fired live rounds and gas as a 2,000 strong crowd attempted to march on the US embassy there.

But in Benghazi, there was a show of sympathy from the head of the Libyan Congress who came to pay his respects at the US consulate where Ambassador Stevens and three other Americans were killed.

Some Muslim-Americans in our area are reacting to that film trailer (there's no evidence the entire film has been made) and the violence it has caused.

The president of the Greater Lynchburg Islamic Association, Maqsud Ahmad, says first and foremost, the members of his mosque are hurt. The anti-Islam film portrays the Prophet Mohammed in a very negative light, and Ahmad says it's insulting to Muslims. But beyond the hurt, he says there's disappointment.

"People themselves should realize that not to do anything harmful to any other religion. Not only Islam, but any other religion. They should respect that," said Ahmad.

Ahmad believes in America, the Constitution and the right to free speech. He also believes in respect, and though he hasn't seen "Innocence of Muslims," he says respect was obviously absent from the film.

Despite the pain the film has caused him and his community, he is upset over how some Muslims have reacted: Hateful speech and crowds chanting "death to America."

Violent protests and an attack on a consulate left four Americans dead.

"Our sympathy goes to all of them," said Ahmad.

Ahmad is disappointed in the violence. He says it's a result of people in the Middle East not understanding America's freedoms.

"People overseas do not understand the freedom of speech in the United States. They do not understand the Constitution. You know they think…they label it as approved by the U.S. government," he said.

Another man who did not want to go on camera says Islam is a religion of peace. He says violence is not the answer, and Muslims should condemn those who have brought harm on others.

Ahmad says a Muslim who is violent is not a true follower of Islam.

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