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N.J. Muslims Denounce Berg Execution

Muslim groups in New Jersey condemned the beheading of an American in Iraq, saying his captors violated Islamic law and human decency.

Nicholas Berg (search), 26, a telecommunications businessman from suburban Philadelphia, was killed earlier this month. His beheading was shown in a video broadcast on an Al Qaeda-linked web site, which claimed it was done in retribution for the abuse of Iraqi prisoners by United States troops.

"I see no religious, moral or legal justification for the brutal killing of a human being," said Sohail Mohammed, a lawyer for the American Muslim Union (search), based in Paterson. "We condemn the killing. These types of acts have no place in Islam."

The Majlis Ash-Shura (search) of New Jersey, the state's council of mosques, said the killing was an abomination.

"I've seen things in the past that have shocked me, and as time goes by, you get less shocked, but this shocked me," said the group's chairman, Yaser El-Menshawy. "He had some background and understanding of Muslim culture. He wasn't there to spy. It made no sense. There were no grounds, no justification.

"You put that next to what's going on in the prisons, and it seems like this whole world has gone upside down," he said. "It's a bad situation that just got a whole lot worse."

The New Jersey Chapter of the American Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (search) said Berg's killers perverted Islam.

"We strongly condemn this cold-blooded murder and denounce any individual and groups who would commit such uncivil and unjustified acts of murder and inhumanity," the group's president, Aref Assaf, said. "Implicating the name of religion to justify such acts is most abhorrent and does a great disservice to Islam and Muslims worldwide.

"We implore all people of good conscience to unite their efforts to reconcile their differences in a peaceful and just manner," he said. "Such acts of mindless violence in the name of religion will only fuel more hatred and bloodshed. A wrong act cannot be corrected by a similarly wrong and immoral reprisal. We offer our sincerest condolences to the Berg family and the families of innocent victims in Iraq."