(Editor's note: Corrects quotation attribution in second half of story; Ibrahim Hooper of CAIR and Hussein Ibish of the American Arab Anti-Discrimation Committee both spoke to Fox News on Thursday.)
(CNSNews.com) - The Council on American-Islamic relations, which describes itself as an Islamic civil rights and advocacy group, says it has launched an online petition drive "to help correct misperceptions of Islam" -- and to clarify Islam's stance on religiously-motivated terror.
CAIR said its "Not in the Name of Islam" petition drive aims to disassociate the faith of Islam from the violent acts of a few Muslims.
The petition, aimed at Muslims worldwide, states:
We, the undersigned Muslims, wish to state 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. No injustice done to Muslims can ever justify the massacre of innocent people, and no act of terror will ever serve the cause of Islam. We repudiate and dissociate ourselves from any Muslim group or individual who commits such brutal and un-Islamic acts. We refuse to allow our faith to be held hostage by the criminal actions of a tiny minority acting outside the teachings of both the Quran and the Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him.
The petition includes the following passage from the Quran: "Oh you who believe, stand up firmly for justice, as witnesses to God, even if it be against yourselves, or your parents, or your kin, and whether it be against rich or poor; for God can best protect both. Do not follow any passion, lest you not be just. And if you distort or decline to do justice, verily God is well-acquainted with all that you do." (Quran 4:135)
CAIR said its petition drive follows the videotaped beheading of an American civilian in Iraq -- and event that "shocked television viewers worldwide," it noted.
"We hope this effort will demonstrate once and for all that Muslims in America and throughout the Islamic world reject violence committed in the name of Islam," said CAIR Board Chairman Omar Ahmad.
"People of all faiths must do whatever they can to help end the downward spiral of mutual hostility and hatred that is engulfing our world."
Not connected to murdering thugs
In an interview on Fox News's Neil Cavuto show on Thursday, CAIR Communications Director Ibrahim Hooper said he hopes Muslims from around the world will go to the CAIR website to sign the petition and say, "We reject the linkage between Islam and terrorism." He said it's too early to know what kind of response the petition drive will generate.
Appearing along with Hooper on Cavuto's show, Hussein Ibish, a spokesman for the Arab-American Anti Discrimination Committee, said the people his group represents are proud Americans. "We're not connected in any way to these murdering thugs."
He said he expects a good response to CAIR's petition drive: "The attacks in Riyadh, in Morocco, in Amman and in Syria are really starting to annoy a lot of people who might have shrugged or might not have cared so much."
Ibish agreed that the Muslims -- particularly the Arab world -- must speak with a more unified voice in condemning terrorist violence.
He said the problem is that America tends to be "insular."
"We just don't hear things people are saying sometimes because the cultural power of our country is such that the information flows out much more easily than it comes in. But I do think there has to be a much more concerted effort to stigmatize and eradicate this kind of extremist politics. And I think you're starting to see real trends in that direction."
CAIR has been criticized, most recently by syndicated columnist Michelle Malkin, for failing to condemn Muslim fanatics. Daniel Pipes, director of the Bush administration's Middle East Forum and author of Militant Islam Reaches America, has called the group "radical to the core."