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400 Rally in Muhammad Parade Press Connects
BINGHAMTON -- About 400 people marched through downtown Binghamton Saturday to celebrate the prophet Muhammad's birthday and show their Islamic faith to the community.
They were met by some curious stares from scattered onlookers and two protesters, one of whom was hustled away by Binghamton police after using a portable loud speaker to yell comments at the marchers.
The march was part of a series of activities organized by International Quranic Open University and Muslims of the Americas, a controversial Islamic community headquartered in Hancock.
Participants said they wanted to improve relations among Muslims, Christians and Jews and reach out to the broader community.
"We're utilizing the commemoration of the prophet Muhammad's birthday to bridge the gap of misunderstanding between Muslims, Christians and other faith groups," said Muhammad Hasib Qadri, public relations liaison for the organizations.
When Muslims stop killing people in the name of Islam, we can have coffee and talk.
But one of the protesters, Jim DeFerio, of Syracuse, yelled "you're not going to find salvation praying to Mecca five times a day," and "this is nothing but a parade of terrorists" as the marchers moved past him. He was confronted by Binghamton police who told him to move or risk arrest.
The suspect, 20-year-old Ramadan Abdur-Rauf Abdullah of Binghamton, New York, surrendered after a six-hour standoff. He was charged with Telen's murder and attempting to murder three other deputies. "He is also accused of the special circumstances of murder during a burglary and of a peace officer carrying out his duty, which makes him eligible for the death penalty if convicted," stated James Oppliger, chief deputy district attorney in the homicide unit.
Sheriff's Lt. Don Burk said at the scene that the suspect had access to six to 10 shotguns, rifles and handguns inside the home, as well as ammunition for all of the weapons.
At [Deputy Sheriff's] Telen's funeral on Aug. 27, at the People's Church, Fresno County Sheriff Richard Pierce told mourners that Telen made the ultimate sacrifice in part because he was "courageous and dedicated to his community." He was doing the job "he did with all his heart" when he took a blast in the head.
Ramadan Abdullah ran away from his large (Binghamton) New York family in the summer of 2001 to join a fringe Islamic camp (the Muslims of the Americas) in the Tulare County foothills. (see Jawa Report info here on Tulare County). ). A month later, he ran off again, broke into a home just north of the Fresno County border and wound up in a shoot out with sheriff's deputies.