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In New Mexico, Muslims Reject Sectarian Labels Attached to Killings

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Domestic Muslims The group linked the murder of four Muslim men in New Mexico to sectarianism, but Muslims who knew the victims and suspects said revenge and a personal feud were possible motives. points out that there is

Police arrested Afghan refugee Muhammad Saeed, 51, last week as the prime suspect in the shooting of four of his Muslim men in New Mexico's largest city. did. Said, who is scheduled to appear at a bail hearing on Wednesday, has denied any involvement. His attorney did not immediately respond to requests for comment. Detectives said a "conflict" could be the cause.

The Council on Muslim American Relations (CAIR) was quick to condemn the killings as possible "anti-Shia hatred," one of the Muslim advocacy groups in the United States. did. Three of his victims were members of the Shia Muslim minority. Syed is a Sunni Muslim.

Abed Ayub, legal and policy director for the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Commission, told Reuters the killings were clearly anti-Shia. The Shia Racial Justice Coalition "condemned the heinous killings targeted at Shiites."

Shia-Sunni tensions flare up in the Middle East and South Asia, including Afghanistan, where Shia are frequently attacked by Sunni extremists.

New Mexico's Muslim leaders say it is inaccurate to call the killings sectarian, and Shiites and Sunnis praying together at Albuquerque's main mosque.

"It would be reckless to simply say that this is a Sunni Shi'a," he said, hosting an interfaith rally for the murdered man. Palestinian-American human rights activist Samia Assed said.

Mazin Kadhim was his worker in Syed's refugee resettlement case when he arrived in Albuquerque about six years ago. Saeed's traditional male authority was challenged and he was humiliated when Saeed's daughter married Shia Iftikar Amir against his will in 2018, Kadim said.

Syed was charged with murdering Aftab Hussein, Amir's friend and cafe manager, on 26 July.

Qadim said Said held animosity towards the Shia, but Hussein's death was a revenge killing for the rebellion of his daughter and son-in-law.

"It wasn't Sunni or Shia, it was extremism," said Qadim, a Shiite who helped organize the Muslim unity march on Friday. rice field.

Syed's daughter did not immediately respond to Reuters' request for comment.

Afghan-American business His owner, Mulla Akbar, said the truck driver, Said, treated women as "property", rarely worked, and digitally stamped his food at the store. was illegally exchanged for cash.

The food stamp system led to a dispute with supermarket owner Muhammad Ahmadi, 62, he said, Akbar. Ahmadi said he was shot dead on November 7, 2021, with police linking him to three other deaths.

Syed's son Shaheen was arrested last week on federal firearms charges for providing a false address. At Monday's hearing after the young man was denied bail, federal prosecutors linked 21-year-old Saeed to the Aug. 5 murder of truck business owner Naeem Hussein, 25. Shaheen Syed's attorneys called the allegations "speculative."

Imtiaz Hussain does not believe sectarian hatred was involved in the August 1 murder of his brother Muhammad Afzaal Hussain, a Sunni city planning director. not He dismisses his claim that he was mistaken for a Shiite. Said was charged with murder.

"There is extreme hatred," said Imtiaz, still searching for motives.

Police said they were cooperating with prosecutors on possible charges in the deaths of Naeem Hussein and Ahmadi. (Reporting by Andrew Hay, Taos, New Mexico; Editing by Donna Bryson and Gerry Doyle)