Sunday, March 28, 2010

Answers Are Sought in Killing of Muslim Cleric in Detroit

Answers are sought in killing of Muslim cleric

Supporters say it was police brutality


African-American community called for answers at a rally Saturday afternoon to the killing of a Muslim cleric during an FBI raid in Dearborn in October.

More than 200 people gathered at New Bethel Baptist Church in Detroit to protest the controversial shooting of Imam Luqman Ameen Abdullah, 53. Abdullah was the target of a two-year investigation by federal agents who said he was a radical Sunni leader preaching the overthrow of the government from his small mosque.

Abdullah was shot 21 times during the raid. FBI agents, in their official account of the event, said they chased Abdullah, then caught up with him and demanded that he show his hands. Instead, they say, he pulled a gun and fired it, prompting agents to fire back.

Abdullah's supporters contend it was an act of police brutality aimed at a black Muslim. Agents in the raid were searching the warehouse for stolen items they say Abdullah was using to raise money for the mosque.

Saturday's event, co-sponsored by the Detroit branch of the NAACP, the Detroit Coalition Against Police Brutality and others, was held in one of Detroit's most famous Baptist churches, a sign, organizers said, that Abdullah's death was of concern beyond the Muslim community.

The Rev. Robert Smith of New Bethel said he welcomed the rally -- and likened the killing to those committed by police during the civil rights movement and Detroit riots.

"Something is happening here that is an awful and dangerous thing," Smith said.

Dearborn police are investigating the shooting and are expected to release their findings soon. The FBI did not return phone calls Saturday afternoon.

"This is a human concern, not a Muslim concern," said Imam Dawud Walid, executive director of the Michigan chapter of the Council on American Islamic Relations, one of the sponsors of the event. "The African-American community has had a long history of this kind of experience in Detroit."

Those sitting in the church Saturday recalled Abdullah as a peaceful man and disputed the government's contention that he was a radical.

"He was a very humble man of meager means," said Sheara Ibraaheem, 56, of Dearborn Heights, who said she knew him for many years and was married in his mosque. "I want to know what happened here. We can't let this fade away."

Contact L.L. BRASIER: 248-858-2262 or

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