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Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 18 March 2019

Muslims in Europe denounce ISIL extremism

On YouTube, Twitter, and in large-scale demonstrations, Muslims in Europe are condemning Islamic extremism, writes Colin Randall.
People take part in a silent walk for French mountain-guide Herve Gourdel in Nice, France on September 27. Gourdel, 55, was beheaded by members of Jund Al Khilifa, Algerian militants affiliated with ISIL in the mountainous Tizi Ouzou region in eastern Algeria on September 21. EPA
People take part in a silent walk for French mountain-guide Herve Gourdel in Nice, France on September 27. Gourdel, 55, was beheaded by members of Jund Al Khilifa, Algerian militants affiliated with ISIL in the mountainous Tizi Ouzou region in eastern Algeria on September 21. EPA

MARSEILLE // Amid widespread revulsion at ISIL brutality, a strong wave of hostility to extreme Islamist groups is sweeping Muslim communities in the West.

A YouTube video, entitled Not in My Name and featuring a succession of British Muslims declaring impassioned opposition to ISIL, has attracted more than 242,603 views.

Other users have reposted it, leading to thousands more views, and the United States president Barack Obama has paid public tribute to the London-based movement, Active Change Foundation, that produced the clip.

Each horrific atrocity committed by militant groups increases western Muslim protests. On Friday, thousands of Muslims gathered across France to protest the murder of Herve Gourdel, a French tourist beheaded last week by ISIL-linked militants in Algeria.

The French Muslim Council (CFCM) also denounced Mr Gourdel’s murder as a “barbaric act”.

He was murdered by the so-called Soldiers of the Caliphate, apparently after the expiry of a 24-deadline for France to halt airstrikes against extremists in Iraq as the price of his life.

“The CFCM shares the grief of the family and the whole nation in the face of such a crime, which deserves exemplary punishment by the justice of God and that of Man,” said the council, headed by Dalil Boubakeur, Algerian-born rector of the Grand Mosque of Paris.

Outside the mosque, and in the immigrant-dominated Parisian district of Barbès, Muslims told French television of their horror at the killing.

“It has nothing to do with Islam, the Quran, the Prophet or with God,” said a Maghrebin grocer.

Elsewhere in Europe, Muslims have staged demonstrations in Germany and Norway against the self-styled Islamist militants who have seized control of large areas of Syria and Iraq.

Even before news of threats to kill one of two German hostages abducted by the Al Qaeda-linked group, Abu Sayyaf, in the Philippines, Aiman Mazyek, leader of Germany’s central council of Muslims, condemned the “terrorists and murderers who drag Islam into the dirt and bring hatred and suffering to the people, including to their own fellow Muslims, in Syria, in Iraq and elsewhere”.

Last week, the German Muslim council held a day of prayers and rallies.

In the Berlin suburb of Kreuzberg — known as little Istanbul because of its large Turkish population — thousands heard speeches against Islamist terrorism.

“They are acting under the banner of the Prophet, but their crimes show they have not understood a word of what Allah has revealed to us and how our Prophet lived by these commandments,” said a statement to worshippers in mosques throughout the country.

The man behind the hashtag #notinmyname campaign and the video, is Hanif Qadif, British of Pakistani origin. He told The National he was amazed at their global spread.

“It’s heartening and overwhelming at the same time,” said Mr Qadif, chief executive of Active Change Foundation, which he describes as “a grassroots charity created to prevent and counter violent extremism and terrorism”.

“We didn’t expect it to grow so quickly. But we are all speaking from the heart when we say this [ISIL violence] is absolutely not being carried out in our name. There have been some nasty and worrying responses from a few, but this will not hinder our efforts.”

Among the comments made on the video, a young woman describes Islam as a religion of tolerance for women, for whom she accuses ISIL of having no respect. She calls for Muslim unity to stop a group that is “damaging to Islam, damaging to Muslims”. Different male contributors say ISIL is “un-Islamic”, “has no compassion” and is “inhumane”.

Mr Qadif said it was time representatives of Muslims around the world stood up more boldly to oppose ISIL actions.

“They are not going far and deep enough to emphasise to Muslims that what ISIL is doing has nothing to do with the Prophet’s teachings or the traditions we are governed by,” he said. “There are scholars in the Middle East who have given chapter and verse on this, but certainly not enough is being done in the UK.”

The Active Change Foundation website makes its own attempt to counter this perceived restraint. “Tell the world that ISIS [an alternative acronym for ISIL] are the real enemies of Islam,” the organisation says.

foreign.desk@thenational.ae

Updated: September 27, 2014 04:00 AM

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