The death of Luqman Ameen Abdullah â€“ the Muslim leader shot dead Wednesday by FBI agents after he allegedly first opened fire â€“ was mourned and criticized today by some African-American Muslims in metro Detroit and across the U.S.
And religious experts say his death was the first time the U.S. government has killed a religious leader since the 1993 death of David Koresh at the Branch Davidian ranch in Waco, Texas.
"This tragic shooting raises deep concerns regarding the use of lethal force by law enforcement agents," the Muslim Alliance in North America said in a statement today about Abdullah. "We urge law enforcement and the media not to take undo advantage of this tragedy in order to demonize … African American Muslims in particular."
Abdullah was on an advisory board for the Muslim Alliance, and he often met with local imams, said local Muslims.
Catherine Wessinger, a professor of history of religions at Loyola University in New Orleans who studies religious violence, said today this was the first case of a religious leader who was killed on American soil by the U.S. government since the Branch Davidian case. In that incident, Koresh and many of his followers died after a siege by federal officers that ended in a fire and shooting.
In its statement, the Muslim Alliance said, "Luqman was a representative of the Detroit Muslim community to the "National Ummah" and the general assembly (Shura) of the Muslim Alliance in North America (MANA)."
In the complaint, federal authorities described Abdullah as a radical Sunni fundamentalist who advocated violence to establish Islamic rule.
"America must fall," he said at one point, according to the criminal complaint.
But the Alliance said the "reference to the ‘Ummah’ as a ‘nation-wide radical fundamentalist Sunni group consisting primarily of African-Americans’ is an offensive mischaracterization."
David Nu’Man of Detroit said he knew Abdullah, describing him as a "good humanitarian."
"He helped youth," Nu’Man said, adding that he was a very giving person. "He would help feed the homeless."
Local Muslims said that funeral services have not yet been finalized for Abdullah.