San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Latin American Muslims Meet in Guatemala

GUATEMALA CITY (AFP) –Muslim leaders from 24 countries in LatinAmerica met for three days this week inGuatemala to study ways to improve theimage of Islam in the region.“We know there are forces and factorsthat distort and poison the image of Islamand its relation with other peoples,” saidAhmed Said Ould Bah, of the IslamicOrganization of Culture, Science andEducation.Ould Bah acknowledged that the publicrelations problem has become muchmore difficult following the Sept. 11,2001, terrorist attacks in the UnitedStates, but lamented “the media blamesIslam when a Muslim commits an act ofterrorism.” Other religions are treated differentlyin the media, Ould Bah noted.Mohammed Hajer, secretary general ofthe Islamic Organization of Latin America,condemned violence in all forms, including“all the acts of injustice against our brothersand sisters committed with the excuseof maintaining the peace, and reviving thesentiments of the Crusades.”Hajer said the meeting was originallyscheduled to be held in Honduras – acountry with a sizable Palestinian population– but was reprogrammed forGuatemala. He declined to say why.

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