The media shows us terrorists, extremists and murderers, and a constant association with Islam. In reality the majority of Muslims live in peace and many are fighting back against Islamic Extremism. Yet, is it fair to expect Muslims to apologise for extremists?
Islam is the world’s second largest religion. Muslims believe Allah is the one true God and that the prophet Muhammad communicated his will. Islam promotes messages of peace; the Qur’an (Muslim holy book) states that you should not kill. In Britain there are about 2.7 million Muslims.
Islamism, also called political Islam, is very different. It’s the belief that Islam should be political as well as just personal. It’s often (though not always) linked to violent Islamic extremism, fundamentalist beliefs and terrorist groups.
To Paris, From Pakistan Please share it as much as you can so it reaches the people in Europe!#PrayForParis #PrayForTheWorld House of Lolz
Posted by Pakistani Comedians on Sunday, November 15, 2015
On Friday 13th November 2015, Paris was decimated by a series of terror attacks. At least 129 people are dead and around 99 are seriously injured. Shootings and suicide bomb attacks were carried out across multiple locations. Extremist group the so-called Islamic State (ISIS) claimed responsibility for the attacks.
In the wake of the attacks a series a videos of Pakistani Muslims denouncing the attacks went viral. It begins by saying “we’d like you to know that we’re just a shocked and horrified as everyone else around the world.” It then goes on to say that they would not be apologising for the actions of Islamic State. “We can’t possibly be held responsible for the actions of a few deranged individuals who somehow claim to be like us… that’s like blaming all Germans for the actions of Hitler.”
The hashtag “nous sommes unis” which means “we are united” in French also started trending on twitter.
Earlier in 2015 killer Seifeddine Rezgui murdered 38 people in Tunisia. Islamist group Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attack.
When Sky News released this image some people commented that it looked as though the Muslims on the beach were just standing by.
Later, a video would show locals and hotel workers chasing the killer, picking up bottles as weapons and shouting at him “Why?”
Other witness accounts confirmed the bravery of the Tunisians. They placed their own lives in danger protecting the guests.
Sajda Mughal was the only Muslim in the underground carriage targeted in the 7/7 bombings in 2005.
After the attack she quit her job in the city and now works for a charity attempting to stop young people becoming radicalised.
“Islam teaches you to respect life, not even to harm an ant – how could you harm a human being in the name of Islam?” – Sajda Mughal in an interview with the Mirror.
Imams are leaders of the Mosque. They lead the prayers, teach the religion and help out in the community. In the past people have worried that Mosques were places where extremist views could be preached in secret. A group of Imams from around the UK decided to make this video, setting themselves against the actions of Islamic State.
More and more reports describe young Muslims who are radicalised by extremist messages. Many are travelling to areas like Syria and Iraq to join Jihad (“holy war”). It’s worth noting that Jihad isn’t actually a violent concept; it has been misappropriated by extremists.
The Muslim Youth League decided to do something about this. They launched a campaign urging politicians and leaders from the Muslim faith to condemn violence and extremism.
The group used an image of a Muslim woman using a Union Jack flag as a headscarf. Visiting cities up and down the country, they educated many against the dangers of radicalisation.
The campaign was created by Sara Khan who also co-founded the Inspire group; which was created to empower Muslim women and work towards gender equality.
You can view some of the women making a stand on the MAS wall as part of the Inspire website.
Activists and ordinary people uploaded images to social media with #NotInMyName.
Groups like ISIS have used social media to spread their message and many fear they are winning the online battle.
‘After finding out that James Foley had been beheaded and David Haines was next, we decided enough was enough and that we must take action and take a stand to show the world they do not represent us Muslims. They will not kill in the name of Islam.’ – Zahra Qadir from Active Change, the charity behind the campaign.
This year, to mark the 10th anniversary of the 7/7 bombings, Mosques around the country opened their doors. They invited non-Muslims to attend a peaceful “iftar”; the meal eaten after sunset by fasting Muslims. Imams are also encouraged to mention 7/7 in their sermons.
That list only gives 8 examples. It doesn’t mention the other times Muslim leaders around the world denounced ISIS, or Muslims in the security services who protect our country from terrorists.
We should also mention the countless times Muslims have explained that terrorist groups misinterpret the teachings of Islam, which is a peaceful religion.
Is it enough to win over the public opinion? More importantly, why should Muslims have to apologise for the misinterpretation of their religion?
More than a quarter of British 18-24s don’t trust Muslims. Around 15% of Muslims are Islamists according to historian Daniel Pipes, though many would disagree with that statistic. Yet some people think that just because the figure is low it doesn’t mean we can’t debate the big issues. When confronted with this statistic American journalist Brigitte Gabriel gave this passionate response;
Is she right? The percentage of Muslims who are extremists is extremely low; does this mean we shouldn’t link Islamic Extremism to Islam? It’s unlikely a definite answer is coming any time soon. With David Cameron and Teresa May pressing the Muslim community to do more to combat extremists, this issue will be on the agenda for a long time to come.
However some might argue that it is unfair to expect Muslims to apologise for, and condemn acts of Islamic extremism. This Daily Show clip outlines the issue perfectly. It’s arguable that we wouldn’t expect a Christian to condemn all the bad things the Church has done in the past. Nor would we ask a white person to condemn all the acts of violence committed by white people. So why do we demand this from Muslims?
Do we need to do more to ensure Muslims aren’t misrepresented? Can the Muslim community do more to condemn acts of violence and should we expect this? Are people too scared to speak out for fear of being seen as racist or Islamophobic?
They dominate our headlines, but what do we actually know about the so-called Islamic State? Who or what is it? What do its members believe in? What do they want? Are they really so powerful? How do we combat them? All your questions; simply answered in our five-part guide.
What even is the so-called Islamic State of Iraq and Syria? Wikipedia says it’s a Wahhabi/Salafi jihadist extremist militant group, but what do all these words even mean? We broke it down.
Members of the group want to create a caliphate. What is this? What is Muslim Sharia Law? Is this actually anything to do with Islam or is the group twisting it to suit its own ends?
Islamic State seems like an unstoppable force. How powerful is the group really? Why are young Westerners attracted to join the ranks?
A global coalition of 62 countries led by the USA is targeting the so-called Islamic State with airstrikes. What’s the best way to tackle terrorist groups? Is dropping bombs the answer or do we need actual boots on the ground?
All those questions you had about ISIS but were too embarrassed to ask? Yeah, we answered them. Trust us, ISIS can be a tricky subject to get your head around. So we took a bunch of frequently asked questions and broke down the answers. What does ISIS mean? What does the flag say? How did ISIS get weapons and Toyota jeeps? Are ISIS terrorists? Is ISIS actually Islamic? All this and more, with simple answers.
A tonne of material has been written on ISIS and our understanding of the group is constantly changing. World leaders, journalists and scholars continually struggle to explain the group and its motives. If there are any definitive answers, it’s clear we won’t have them for a while due to the lack of information we have on the group. The information we do have is often conflicting and challenged. Most importantly we can’t claim to be able to explain ISIS as we cannot assume there is a rationality behind their actions that we can fully understand. This is not to say that they are just batsh*t crazy and fueled purely by evil. Instead, we are saying that the ISIS worldview may be so different to that of most Western journalists and analysts that they may simply be unable to wrap their heads around it, not with the little information we have on them anyway.
Take it from us – the guys doing the explaining – some things don’t have a rough and ready straightforward explanation. But what the hell, we thought we’d try anyway.
Two West Yorkshire teenagers are the latest in a line of stories in the news about UK teens escaping to Syria to fight on both sides of the conflict with Islamic State. But how are they doing it?
*This is us officially stating, this is in no way a tool, a guide or endorsement. Simply investigative and explanatory journalism.*
IGNORING THE UK GOVERNMENT
The UK’s foreign and commonwealth office advise against ALL travel to Syria.
There is widespread fighting in the majority of the country, air strikes and high threats of kidnapping and terrorism.
It’s not illegal to travel there, just very, very dangerous.
But anyone who has left for Syria and whose activities amount to terrorism under UK law could be prosecuted on return by the UK government.
But hey, what do these guys know? So far it’s thought 600 people from the UK have travelled to Syria and Iraq.
KNOW WHERE YOU’RE GOING
Syria is in the Middle East, next to Iraq and Turkey.
Many of the Brits that have travelled are flying to Turkey and slipping through the border into Syria, which is infamously easy to slip through undetected. Mini-buses shuttle people to remote parts of the country where the border is less well maintained.
Others have gone to the island of Cyprus and then sailed across.
You could always ask an expert: Not everyone has the best knowledge when it comes to these matters – so one individual posted on the Lonely Planet Traveler website asking for information on which borders were open to them.
As S.o.R. reported earlier the UK is bringing in exit checks at all borders. So you’d better have a good reason for travelling.
Some people have claimed they were going on holiday or staying with relatives, whilst others say their reason for travelling is Humanitarian or Charity work
The two West Yorkshire teenagers who travelled to Turkey on 31st March told their families they were going on a school trip. They are now believed to be in Syria fighting with Islamic State.