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?
Part of the ISIS Explained series.
ISIS have taken responsibility for several attacks across Paris, Baghdad and Beirut that occurred within a few days of each other. This is the first in a series of explainers on ISIS, this lays the foundations of what those four letters mean.
According to Wikipedia, ISIS/ISIL/ Daesh is a Wahhabi/Salafi jihadist extremist militant group and self-proclaimed Islamic State and caliphate. What’s not to understand?
One word at a time.
ISIS are an armed group, they use violent and coercive methods to achieve their goals.
This word is often translated as “holy war”, but is more accurately translated as “struggle in the way of God/Allah.” It is a religious duty to defend Islam and to seek self improvement as a Muslim. The word has become associated with the violent tactics of a minority of Muslim groups like ISIS, but many Muslims want to reclaim the word and take it back to its nicer origins.
Salafi and Wahhabi are often used interchangeably to mean the same thing. Wahhabism is an interpretation of Islam that ISIS has been strongly influenced by. Wahhabi Islam started with the founder Mohammad ibn Abd-al-Wahhab in the 1700s who thought that, rather than listening to what religious leaders of the day thought about Islam, we should live more closely in line with the original religious texts. This approach to Islam now has a very bad rep these days, as being a version of the faith that is used to justify the very graphic forms of execution and control of women used by ISIS (and also Saudi Arabia). People have very strong and varying views on its relation to the broader faith and whether the way ISIS practise it is representative of the Muslim faith. While Sharia law, an Islamic version of law, does allow the death penalty under very specific circumstances, it should be emphasised that many feel ISIS distorts what the Islamic texts say to the point that they are no longer practising a kind of Islam that most Muslims would recognise as their faith. “Wahhabi” is considered by some who practise this form of Islam to be insulting, preferring “Salafi” instead. “Wahhabi” emphasises the name of the guy who started the movement, whereas “Salafi” emphasises the earlier Muslims and their practices whom the Salafist movement aims to emulate.
It’s important to mention that ISIS should not simply be described as Wahhabi/Salafi but as Wahhabi/Salafi jihadists. This refers to a specific movement from within Wahhabi/Salafis which emerged in the 1990s in the context of Afghanistan’s US-backed war with the Soviet Union. In a nutshell, some members of the Salafist movement came to feel that violence was a necessary means to achieve their political goals. These political goals essentially included leading a return to a society based on a “purer” form of Islam, which did not include democracy and which rejected the Shia political rule that had dominated parts of the region. So not all Wahhabi/Salafists are violent Wahhabi/Salafi jihadists. Early Salafi jihadist groups include Al Qaeda.
What should be understood by the word “extremism” really depends on your point of view. When this word is used in conjunction with Islam, people might be talking about a strict and conservative approach to interpreting religious texts and practising religion. However, people using the word “extremist” might be talking about people who think grisly violence is a reasonable way to get what they want, in which case they actually mean militant. Words are tricky things, so it’s best to be sure we know what we mean.
ISIS want to set up an Islamic State: a country run according to laws drawn directly from the Islamic faith. A caliphate is an Islamic state. It’s led by a caliph, a person considered to be a political religious successor to the Islamic prophet Mohammed. The laws of Western countries draw heavily on Christian morality, and Israel was set up as a Jewish state. ISIS control large areas of Syria and Iraq, and claim to have already set up an Islamic State there, and are running it according to a very controversial interpretation of Islam. Plus, the aim doesn’t stop at turning the current occupied territories into a full on Islamic State. To say that ISIS want world domination sounds like fear mongering, but they did say in their Dabiq magazine that they want to “expand” until their “blessed flag…covers all eastern and western extents of the Earth.”
All these names refer to the same organisation and they’re all based on the same thing. However, ISIS has had even more different names in the past. The group used to be a chummy affiliate with Al Qaeda, and so were known to us as Al Qaeda in Iraq. The group became known as ISIS after they split off from Al Qaeda. They had aggressively taken over large areas of Iraq and had stopped being a team player. Al Qaeda cut ties with them, fearing they were giving them a bad name. Declaring itself a country of its own in northern Iraq around 2006, the organization began calling itself Islamic State in Iraq. Then they took a bunch of territory in Syria in 2013. This is when they became ISIS – which stands for Islamic State in Iraq and al-Shām.
Some people translate al-Shām to mean “the Levant”, which is a loose term for a large region in the Middle East . This gets you the name ISIL. Others go for Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, which gets you ISIS. Daesh is another name for ISIL used by a bunch of state leaders and media outlets, but ISIS have banned the use of this name. It comes from taking the first letters of the full Arabic name for ISIS: al-Dawla al-Islamiya fi Iraq we al-Sham, which gives you DAIISH. ISIS take this acronym as an insult, because it sounds a lot like the Arabic word “dahes”, which can be translated to mean “one who sows discord”.
“So-called Islamic State” is how the BBC choose to refer to the group. This is a way to sass them on the regular by refusing to recognise Islamic State as a legitimate country.
ISIS Explained: Islamic State in Iraq and al-Shām are an armed group who use violence to achieve the goals they have set themselves based on their controversial interpretations of the Muslim faith and the religious duty to defend the faith.
Reports of hate crimes have been rising in the UK for the past three years. Anti-Muslim crimes will now be recorded as a separate category of hate crime, like anti-Semitic (anti-Jewish) crimes have been for a good while. So what actually is a hate crime, and why does it seem to be increasing? Scenes of Reason had a look-see to find out.
It does what it says on the tin. It’s a crime which is perceived by the victim or anyone else to be motivated by hate – that’s the UK Home Office definition.
Hate: Hostility towards someone based on a personal characteristic. The five types of personal characteristics hate crimes can be recorded under are (1) race or ethnicity (2) religion or beliefs (3) sexual orientation (4) disability and (5) transgender identity.
Crime: A criminal offence. Specifically assault, harassment, causing public alarm and criminal damage.
A woman was arrested October 2015 after she aired her views on a London bus.
Just days later, this ever worse video came out.
Home Office stats tell us that nearly 53,000 hate crimes were recorded by the police between 2014 and 2015. That’s an 18% increase from the year before. 82% of these were race hate crimes. 11% were against sexual orientation, 6% against religion, 5% against disability and 1% against transgender identity.
Hate crimes can be motivated by more than one kind of hatred. Haters got a lot of hate in their hearts. This is why these stats add up to more than 100%. Just in case you thought we couldn’t add up 😉
The number of Anti-Semitic hate crimes and Islamophobic hate crimes – like the ones in the videos above – are getting scary high.
The London Met police reported that hate crimes against Jewish people increased by 138% in 2014 – from 208 to 495.
In the same period, Islamophobic hate crimes increased by over 47%, from 529 to 778.
So anti-Semitic crimes have increased by the most, and Islamophobic crimes were higher to begin with and remain higher now. FYI This is obviously not a competition! We just wanted you to know what’s actually going on.
This is not just a London thing either. UK police have reported that anti-Semitic crimes have increased UK-wide by around 50%. In the year following the attack on Lee Rigby – a British soldier murdered by two men “because Muslims are dying daily by British soldiers” – government-backed Islamic group Tell Mama report that Islamophobic incidents have increased by 20%.
The most recent Home Office statistics don’t only show that Muslim adults are the most likely to be a victim of religious hate crime, but also that Muslim adults are among those most likely to be a victim of a racist hate crime.
Anti-Semitic hate crimes have for a good while been recorded as a separate category of hate crime. The same goes for anti-Muslim and Islamophobic hate crimes for the London Met police. PM David Cameron is now encouraging all UK police to record anti-Muslim crime as its own separate category.
Some newspapers are reporting it as anti-Muslim crimes to be “taken as seriously” as anti-Semitic crimes — is that not how it was before?
Stats don’t tell you everything. These are the numbers of crimes being reported to the police, and the police and government reckon that the number of crimes being reported is increasing literally because more people are reporting them, not because there are more crimes than there were before. Yay?
We can’t break out the belly dancing and the oom-pah band to celebrate though. The London Met police also reckon that the anti-Semitic and Islamophobic crime is on the up because of the Israel’s attack on Gaza in the summer of 2014 and the rise of so-called Islamic State.
These are classic cases of large and seriously diverse communities of people getting a bad reputation from small but high-profile minorities within that community. By minorities we mean ISIS and extremist terror groups in the case of the Muslim faith. In terms of the Jewish faith we mean the policies of the Jewish-state of Israel, about which many people counting themselves among the Jewish community have numerous diverse, complex and deeply-considered views. Problem is, these details, disagreements and diverse views often get lost within media representation of the world’s ongoing conflicts.
This video explores the impact of the media representation of Muslims. Has ‘Muslim’ become unfairly synonymous with ‘terrorist’ in many people’s minds?
Here is a list of ways in which people who want to publicly criticise Israel’s violence against Palestine can end up bad-mouthing the entire Jewish faith. Bit of a leap there.
Want to dig deeper? Watch Mehdi Hassan’s eyes flicker with the flame of eternal knowledge in this debate on Islamophobia and anti-Semitism, then come back to us with more questions for us to answer.
Sure it does. However you really shouldn’t confuse a MILF with The MILF or the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.
They are a rebel extremist group in the Philippine Islands, in the South China Sea. The MILF are fighting for increased powers for the Muslim community. Their original aim was the liberation of the Bangsamoro Land; an area to the south of Mindanao (the second largest island in the Philippines and one of the most important).
The MILF want control of the area returned to the Muslim people.
The MILF was officially formed in 1977 by local Moro Muslims in the area. Since then an estimated 120,000 people have died in the conflict between the MILF and the government. The MILF have kidnapped important government officials and other high-profile targets and have attacked security forces. They’ve also been responsible for bombings of civilians. Guys, could you not just sit down and talk it through?
The Philippines are made up of 7,000 islands, but most of the population only live on 11 of these. When the Spanish conquered the islands in the 1500s they called the locals “moors”. The word literally means “black” in Greek. This later merged into Moro. Nothing like a bit of casual racism to make friends and influence people.
The Philippines were given independence in 1946. However the area’s Spanish history is clear; most of the population are Catholic, apart from small pockets of Moro Muslims in various areas.
You mean, apart from having the awesome acronym “MILF”?
Well, The Moro Islamic Liberation Front are in the news this week. They’ve started handing over their weapons after peace talks with the government. In return the government will pay out 25,000 Philippine peso (around £350) to 145 members, designed to give them a chance at a new start in the community. Somehow I can’t see the British government following suit and giving cash to extremists.
In the south of Mindanao island the majority of people are Muslim. Thanks to the deal more powers will be given to them; they’ll be allowed to govern under Islamic Sharia Law. The Philippine government will keep control over foreign policy and the economy.
The deal with the MILF has taken around 17 years to succeed. Better late than never, I guess? But not everyone is convinced. The peace deal didn’t go down too well in the Philippine Congress due to a fight in January where many police were killed.
And despite the Moro Islamic Liberation Front having around 10,000 soldiers, only 75 weapons have been handed over. So, it may be a while before we hear the end of the MILF.