An interfaith March 2017 rally at the Birmingham Islamic Society following emailed threats. SJL file.
On Oct. 11, the Birmingham Islamic Society issued a statement about the current war in Gaza, expressing concern for those in Gaza, but not mentioning the Hamas incursion into Israel that killed over 1,200 Israelis, except to reference worsening conditions in Gaza that they said are because of Israel’s response to the “Hamas attack.”
The statement, issued under the name of BIS President Nasim Uddin, reads:
“The Muslim community is deeply saddened by the recent events unfolding in Palestine. This has caused immense pain and sorrow for us all. Our thoughts are with our brothers and sisters in Gaza, who are enduring relentless bombardment in an already challenging situation of blockade and occupation. These airstrikes have not only claimed numerous lives and homes but have also wreaked havoc on essential infrastructure such as hospitals, water supply networks, and electricity lines. The situation in Gaza is dire, with Israel further tightening its grip by cutting off water, electricity, and food supplies in response to the Hamas attack.
“As we enter the fourth day of this bombing campaign, the humanitarian crisis in one of the world’s most impoverished regions has reached a critical level. Despite international appeals for a ceasefire, the violence persists. It is only recently that the United States has indicated interest in a ceasefire, having previously obstructed several United Nations Security Council statements calling for one. We join our fellow humans in hoping and praying for an end to this violence.
“Our hearts yearn for peace to finally take root in one of the world’s most enduring conflicts. We also implore the global community to take more substantial action in alleviating the plight of the Palestinian people. We call upon the Biden administration to reestablish our nation’s moral leadership in global affairs.
“We pray that our Lord grant solace and healing to all those suffering from oppression and violence regardless of their location and religious/political identity.”
While Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant on Monday mentioned cutting off electricity from Israel into Gaza as part of the response to the attacks, the Gaza Electricity Distribution Company issued a statement on Saturday morning, when the Hamas attacks began, confirming all lines from inside the Green Line, meaning Israel, had already been disrupted.
During the previous response to Gaza rockets, some rockets had hit those power lines and damaged them. In that instance, Israeli technicians worked to restore the power while rockets were still flying around them as they worked.
During the Saturday invasion, Hamas attacked and damaged the Erez Crossing, where all manner of goods, including food, have been transported into Gaza since the blockade against dual-use materials began after the 2007 Hamas takeover. The crossing into Egypt has also been closed.
Though there was no mention of terrorism in the statement, on the BIS website there has been a statement on terrorism, where BIS “affirms and reiterates clearly that those who commit acts of terror, murder and cruelty in the name of Islam are not only destroying innocent lives, but are also betraying the values of the faith they claim to represent… We repudiate and dissociate ourselves from any Muslim group or individual who commits such brutal and un-Islamic acts.”
In the past, there has been cooperation between BIS and the Jewish community. For example, in 2017, there was a rally at the Levite Jewish Community Center amidst a rash of bomb threats, where a representative from BIS spoke. Several members of the Jewish community spoke at a similar event at BIS two weeks later, organized in response to emailed threats against the mosques in Birmingham and Huntsville.