British Muslims help raise $50,000 for Alan Henning’s Family

The killing of Alan Henning, a British hostage held by extremist group Islamic State, has caused anger and turmoil for many who knew him, and many who didn’t. Notably, many of the most prominent voices of anguish have come from Britain’s Islamic community.

 

There are at least two separate online accounts dedicated to Henning. One fund was set up by Shameela Islam-Zulfiqar, a doctor who accompanied Henning on his trip, and currently has £24,216 in donations ($38,832). “News of his murder has left us all enraged and distraught,” Islam-Zulfiqar had said this week. “In the face of this atrocity, we all need to stand together as Muslims and non-Muslims. We should not let this divide us.”

 

Islam-Zulfiqar says that the page was set up with permission from Alan’s wife. “A project will also be set up in Alan’s name eventually to benefit those that Alan died trying to help in Syria,” the page also states. A separate fundraising page has £8,736 ($14,008), while a third account is raising money for the charities Henning supported.

Controversial Cleric, Abu Qatada, condemns ISIS beheadings as against Islam

Abu Qatada, the controversial Muslim cleric deported from the UK for his extremist views, states that beheading of journalists are against Islamic teachings. Speaking from his courtroom cell in Jordan, he told journalists: “Messengers should not be killed,” quoting the prophet Muhammad. The Salafist preacher has been in Jordan since last July, deported from the UK and detained awaiting retrial on two decade-old terrorism charges. The cleric, once described as “Osama bin Laden’s right-hand man in Europe”, is influential among Jordanian Salafists, who follow his statements on Syria, Iraq and extremist groups issued from behind bars.

British women joining the jihad in Syria

Women are now flying to Syria to join the jihad. However, despite their willingness to fight, they play a supporting role for their jihadi husbands – some of whom they met in Syria. They cook, clean and take care of the children as their husbands go out to fight. Some are also involved in the Al Khanssaa Brigade, which is a group set up by ISIL in February this year. The Al Khanssaa is an all female force that maintains strict religious dress codes and checks other women in case they are the enemy fighters in disguise.

The ICSR (International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation) believes around 60 British women have joined the jihad and they are between 18-24 years of age but typically under the age of 20.
There is evidence that some women are bored after being confined to their houses and want to participate in the battles. But last week such calls from women to be allowed to fight provoked a response from the al-Khanssaa: “Sisters take note that the battlefield is not for you unless Muslims are in dire need of both women AND men. You can benefit in other ways.”

Kamel Kabtane denounces the “bastards” in Iraq

Kamel Kabtane,  rector of the Great Mosque of Lyon has made a “clear and precise position” concerning his opinion about the Islamic State of Iraq. The French Council of the Muslim Faith recently released a statement stating, “The CFCM calls on French Muslims to reaffirm their commitment to religious liberty and to respect the beliefs of each human being, wherever they are located.”

However, this statement was not sufficient for Kabtane. “It must be said that the Muslim community is against the massacres of Christians in Iraq,” he said. In Iraq, the Islamic State is persecuting Christians who live in the north of the country. Kabtane believes that “French Muslims would be proud to severely condemn the abominations committed by the executioners in the self-proclaimed Islamic State.” “They are bastards over there…In France, Muslims wish to leave peacefully” he added.

According to the Kabtane, public opinion confuses extremist groups with traditional believers. He stresses that one must not confound “Muslims with all fanatic groups,” and adds that “public opinion is infected with this poison.” Kabtane is known to act autonomously from the French Council of the Muslim Faith.

President Obama on James Foley, and Muslim Victims

August 20, 2014

The men who killed James Foley, the American journalist, belonged to the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, or ISIS, and claimed to be acting in the name of one of the great monotheistic religions of the world with the goal of establishing a caliphate.

But as Mr. Foley’s brutal beheading made clear,  ISIS, a Sunni Muslim group, practices a perverted, nihilistic version of Islam that does an extreme disservice to millions of Muslims, both Sunnis and Shiites, pursuing more peaceful and purposeful lives.

President Obama, who denounced the murder today from his vacation venue on Martha’s Vineyard, put it well when he said that ISIS “speaks for no religion. Their victims are overwhelmingly Muslim, and no faith teaches people to massacre innocents. No just god would stand for what they did yesterday and what they do every single day.”

His description of the group’s horrors was unsparing: “They have rampaged across cities and villages killing innocent, unarmed civilians in cowardly acts of violence. They abduct women and children and subject them to torture and rape and slavery. They have murdered Muslims, both Sunni and Shi’a, by the thousands. They target Christians and religious minorities, driving them from their homes, murdering them when they can, for no other reason than they practice a different religion. They declared their ambition to commit genocide against an ancient people,” the Yazidis.

The point that the extremist group’s victims are overwhelmingly Muslim is worth repeating.

But whatever the United States does in the future, ISIS and its extremist brethren will never be defeated if Muslims themselves don’t make it a priority.

Good Muslim, Bad Muslim by Amina Wadud

August 21, 2014

No doubt about it, the news of late has been dismal, heart breaking, soul crunching. Pick a place or theme and see where you end up: Ebola in parts of Africa, Israel and Hamas; Ferguson, Missouri; Ukraine, U.S., and Russia; unaccompanied minors from the south crossing over into U.S. borders; the assault of the Islamic State of Iraq and Levant (ISIS) on Christians, Kurds, Yazidis, Shi’ahs and journalists. This list could (should) be augmented by many other conflicts and areas of strife which have been on-going for longer than the last several weeks.

I don’t know about you, but I draw my weary attention to the latest news each morning with knots in my stomach and a heavy weight on my shoulders. Meanwhile, even if I am not directing my attention to the news per se, the same events are all over social media and I confess I check into facebook and twitter each day even when I try to maintain a casual posture over usage and to keep upbeat attitude in how I engage (or ignore) the latest hash tag or hot button issues.

For weeks I have been thinking I should blog about an important lesson I have learned as best articulated in the book by Sharon Welch: A Feminist Ethic of Risk. In a world riddled with problems of proportions greater than can be solved by any one person, one group, one country or over one life time, how does one continue to be ethically engaged, avoid crippling despair and pointless cynicism, or just plain fall into apathy?

Welch outlines the problem of an ethical model that is predicated on success in the face of inherent crisis, obvious human rights violations, or even catastrophes of nature. The success is achieved in part as a result of an on-going imbalance of power. This imbalance operates on the basis that any intervention will guarantee the sought after results: tyrants will be put down, enemies of the state will be subdued, and the victor will come home to accolades of support. This presumes that all others are not equal and so if any should transgress “our” territory or sensibilities, we will just go blow them away. (This by the way is the set-genre of US hero films). All it takes is for our hero to come into his or her full prowess and all evil doers will be vanquished, order and beauty will be restored. In short, we can go on about our lives unconcerned about lesser mortals because not only are we safe from terror or the threat or terror, we have proven we have the means to kick butt should any arise.

Naturally she compares this model with patriarchy and imperialism.

Even the Islamists of ISIS are obsessing over Ferguson

August 21, 2014

They’re hoping to use black disenchantment as a recruiting tool.

You can understand if President Obama would rather talk about the fight against Islamic State militants in Iraq, where he has scored some victories, than talk about the unholy mess in Ferguson, Mo. Surprisingly, though, ISIS militants are following developments in the St. Louis suburb, and some of them would rather focus on that. According to interviews and social media, members of the group and sympathizers with its jihadist ideology are closely tracking the events in the St. Louis suburb, where protesters and police have clashed. In it, they see opportunity.

Partly, the focus is strategic: Officers in Ferguson have used military transports and weapons similar to those used by U.S. troops in Iraq. But militants are also claiming vindication — that their arguments about American oppression were right all along. “Well this clearly shows that all this talk about democracy and equality of people in the west is just hypocrisy,” said Abu Sameer after a private autopsy sought by the family of Michael Brown showed that the 18-year-old had been shot at least six times. Abu Sameer lives in France and identifies himself as a member of the Islamic State, a group that has conducted a campaign of mass killings and other atrocities in northern Iraq.

The Islamic State and other jihadist movements are using the events outside St. Louis as propaganda against the West. One argument they’ve been making for years is that racism and discrimination are rampant in some parts of the West, and they’re hoping the Ferguson riots could help recruit black Americans. “In Islam there is no racism, and we think black people will wake up and follow the example of Malcolm X and others who understood that this way is the only way to justice,” said Abu Mansour, who lives in Germany and is also a follower of the Islamic State.

All of the jihadists interviewed said Brown’s death confirms their beliefs that blacks are seen as second-class citizens by whites and especially by the police. “I think that blacks in the U.S. will look more towards Islam,” said Anjem Choudary from Great Britain, co-founder of the banned “al-Muhajiroun” group. (Choudary’s teacher, Omar Bakri Muhammad, was barred from Britain and is currently in a Lebanese jail for his alleged support of jihadist movements in Syria and Iraq.) “The only way of life today that does not look at race is in fact Islam. Islam only distinguished people by whether they are Muslim or not. The color of their skin does not play a role,” Choudary said in a phone interview.

Muslim Leaders Worldwide Condemn ISIS

Many Americans Want to Know Why Muslims Aren’t Condemning ISIS

ABC News’ Laura Ingraham, Fox News’ Sean Hannity, Fox & Friends and other U.S. media commentators say that Muslims are silent and complicit in the barbarian crimes of ISIS.  Fox News host Andrea Tantaros said that all Muslims are the same as ISIS, and implied that all Muslims should be met “with a bullet to the head”.

Why don’t we hear Muslims condemning the barbarian ISIS terrorists?

Turns out they are loudly condemning ISIS … but our press isn’t covering it.

Father Elias Mallon of the Catholic Near East Welfare Association explains:

“Why aren’t Muslims speaking out against these atrocities?” The answer is: Muslims have been speaking out in the strongest terms, condemning the crimes against humanity committed by ISIS (or, as it is increasingly called, IS) and others in the name of Islam.

Father Mallon is right …

The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) – the largest Muslim group in the U.S. – called ISIS un-Islamic and morally repugnant,” noted that the Islamic State’s “human rights abuses on the ground are well-documented,” called the Islamic State “both un-Islamic and morally repugnant” and called the killing of American journalist James Foley “gruesome and barbaric”.  See this, this and this.

The Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) – the largest Muslim organization on the continent – released a statement denouncing the Islamic State “for its attacks on Iraq’s religious minorities and the destruction of their places of worship.” ISNA President Imam Mohamed Magid said, “ISIS actions against religious minorities in Iraq violate the Quranic teaching, ‘Let there be no compulsion in religion’  … ” adding, “Their actions are to be denounced and are in no way representative of what Islam actually teaches.”  INSA condemned the vicious execution of Foley at the hands of the terrorist group ISIS, terming it as “un-Islamic behaviour”, and said:

ISIS actions have never been representative nor in accordance to the mainstream teachings of Islam. This act of murder cannot be justified according to the faith practiced by over 1.6 billion people

The Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC) released a statement condemning “the barbaric execution of American Journalist James Foley by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS).” MPAC urged “all people of conscience to take a stand against extremism” and offered condolences to Foley’s family. MPAC also noted the importance of countering ISIS and other extremist groups by working “to empower the mainstream and relegate extremists to the irrelevance they deserve.”

Central Council of Muslims condemns the violence of the ‘Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant’

August 21, 2014

The chairman of the central council of Muslims in Germany, Aiman Mazyek condemned the approach of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS) in Syria and Iraq. Mazyek spoke about “the infamous actions of barbarian and marauding gangs” when describing the approaches of ISIS after the murderer of US journalist James Foley. These acts would contradict Islam, the Koran and the Muslim way of life.

He called Muslims in Germany to take clear position against ISIS. German Muslims should not limit themselves demonstrating only against the war in Gaza. Mazyek excluded the possibility of potential ISIS sympathisers within Muslim communities. Those who sympathise with Jihadis would be young people with destroyed families and social backgrounds, who experienced discrimination and brainwashing. Islamism should be combated with Islam and the support of moderate Muslims.

Mazyek criticized the idea of arm delivery to the Kurds in Iraq. Humanitarian help should be a priority for the German government. Weapons could quickly arrive and access by wrong actors, said Mazyek.

The “Islamic State” in Germany

August 16, 2014

The terror of the Islamic and State and Levante (ISIL) has been the focus of German public and media. Politicians and security authorities have raised their concern, with regards to recent religious based conflicts in some German cities. In Herford, jihadi adherents supporting ISIL attacked and injured members of the Yezidi minority living in Germany. The Yezidi were protesting for the protection of their religious community, which has been threatened and attacked in Iraq.

While Gemany´s political class is debating whether or not to engage in Iraq, a domestic political debate rises about the proper security measures towards ISIL and its adherents in Germany. Ulla Jelple, domestic speaker of the left-wing party (die Linke) argued in favor of a legal ban. The domestic political speaker of the conservative Christian Democratic Party (CDU) Wolfgang Bosbach demanded tighter legal measures for terrorist associations. A high ranking security officer from Northrhine-Westphalia welcomed the idea to extend possible legal ban procedures as “very helpful”. Legally, ISIL cannot be banned as there is no structure meaning no association, which would be recognized and identified as such. Other politicians introduced the suggestion to deport “extremist” foreigners, who have been recognized as members of ISIL. Volker Kauder (CDU) expressed his concerns about an import of the Iraq conflict to Germany demanding a stronger commitment of Muslim associations against radicalism and violence.