Muslim scholars react to Aya Hachem’s murder and sectarianism

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Shafaqna – It is narrated from Imam Ali (AS): “A person is either your brother in faith or your equal in humanity.” Aya Hachem, a 19-year-old Law student, was tragically shot in the chest and killed on the 17th of May by a gunman in Blackburn, Lancashire; a town with a large Muslim population.

She was sent out by her mother to shop for groceries for their nightly Iftar and dinner as they were in observance of the holy Month of Ramadhan. Aya and her family immigrated to the UK nearly 10 years ago in hopes of achieving a better life for their kids.

The Lebanese-born Muslim was a second-year law student at the University of Salford in Manchester, UK. She was among the youngest trustees of the ‘Children’s Society’ a charity working to support vulnerable children. She devoted a lot of her time to serve children in need. Among her peers she was remembered as passionate and hardworking.

According to Lancashire police Deputy Chief Constable Terry Woods, Aya had not been the intended target for the shooting. Blackburn is now on the map and being pictured as a prejudiced and hateful town. Blackburn is actually known for its diversity in culture, religion and ethnicity.

It is recognized as a multi-faith, multi-cultural town consisting of Sunni and Shia Muslims as well as Christians and other residents all living peacefully together. More than 30% of the population in Blackburn is Muslim. Within Blackburn there are over 50 Mosques and over 100 churches that peacefully practice their religions next to each other with no prejudice or hate.

Following the murder of Aya Hachem, people started to set up donation websites to collect money for her family and to build a Mosque, without the consent of her family. Once the news circulated of Aya being a Shia Muslim, some people asked to withdraw their donations because of her beliefs.

Not only do the Muslims in the UK have to face Islamophobia, now they have to deal with Shiaphobia within their own faith. Unfortunately, anti-Shia sentiment is systematic among some people. The ones who asked for refunds were told to do so. This is the same extremist ideology that considers Shias as infidels.

Some extremists use this sentiment to  legitimise the killing of Shias around the world, whether it be in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran or any other corner of the world. Just as they legitimised the killing of the innocent mothers and babies in the maternity ward of Kabul, Afghanistan. Aya’s murder should have brought people together, but the recent uproar about the donations by some only caused division among them.

Justice will be served as the investigation of this killing continues, and the culprit(s) will be brought to justice. Justice for Aya will only ease a small part of her parent’s pain, as they are left devastated and mourning the loss of their dear daughter. Mr. Hachem said with deep sorrow: “I start crying… because of all my dreams, Aya.”

Some members of the community say: “Whether it was a hate crime or not, an innocent Muslim girl, a young human being, was the victim of this crime. Justice for Aya will not be served just through the police investigations. An intention to build a Mosque in the name of this innocent girl was made and then revoked due to her faith. Justice for the wrong Aya faced by some Muslims after her cold blooded murder, can only be put right by the Muslim community through building a Mosque in her name.”

Seyyed Yousif Al-Khoei

Seyyed Yousif Al-Khoei

Seyyed Yousif Al-Khoei: We are angry and deeply shocked by the cold blooded murder of a young woman during the holy Month of Ramadhan

To have the faith and belief of this young girl defamed and be the subject of promoting hate against her Shia Muslim faith is deplorable

Seyyed Yousif Al-Khoei, Director of public affairs of Al-Khoei Foundation, in an exclusive interview with Shafaqna about the murder of Aya Hachem and the following events said: “Firstly, we express deep condolences to the family of Aya Hachem. Of course, we are angry and deeply shocked by the cold blooded murder of a young woman who was killed during the holy Month of Ramadhan. We will await the results of the police investigation to identify the murderers but to have the faith and belief of this young girl defamed and be the subject of promoting hate against her Shia Muslim faith is deplorable.”

Seyyed Yousif Al-Khoei also added: “We are determined that our anger and frustration will not allow the polarisation of our peaceful communities. It is very encouraging that a number of Sunni Imams have condemned this heinous act and we are certain that more Sunni leaders will join the condemnation, so that we will not allow any Islamophobic groups to divide our community. We also hope that donations for the building of a Mosque in memory of Aya Hachem will continue and is not impeded by the spread of hateful messages against Shia Muslims on social media following Aya’s murder.”

Imam Qari Asim, Chair of Mosques and Imams National Advisary Board in the UK in an exclusive video message for Shafaqna: We strongly condemn sectarianism and hatred and express our sympathy for Aya and her family

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Allama Ghulam Hussain Adeel – Chairman of Hidayat TV in an exclusive video message for Shafaqna: We will not allow any Islamophobic groups to divide our community

We appreciate Sunni scholars who condemned this tragic event

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Allama Hur Shabbair from Al-Mahdi Foundation in an exclusive video message for Shafaqna: Aya Hachem was a great asset to the Muslim community

Everyone should condemn this attack and religious sectarianism

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Video message from Shaykh Muhammad Umar ibn Ramadhan Chairman of Ramadhan Foundation on the recent killing of Aya Hachem and his condemnation regarding comments and actions of a few ignorant people attempting to use this senseless killing as a motive to further sectarianism within the Muslim community


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