Belfast Telegraph

Real Islam abhors Islamic State atrocities

By Mohammed Samaana

The so-called Islamic State (IS) (previously known as Isis) is a terrorist organisation that does not represent Islam, nor does it speak for Muslims.

IS's killing of the American journalist James Foley and its other atrocities in Syria and Iraq against Muslims and non-Muslims alike are incompatible with Islam and contradict how the Prophet Muhammad (who was married to a Christian) treated other faiths.

I recently spoke with Muslims in the Arab world and here in Northern Ireland; not one expressed any support for IS.

To explain the evolution of IS, after the American-led invasion of Iraq in 2003 in its 'War on Terror', al-Qaida managed to establish itself there.

In April 2013, al-Qaida in Iraq declared that al-Qaida in Syria was an extension of al-Qaida in Iraq, and it announced the amalgamation of the two groups under the name of the Islamic State of Iraq and Sham (Isis), before re-naming itself IS.

Al-Qaida leaders in Syria did not accept that, fighting erupted, Isis triumphed and al-Qaida henceforth considered them extremists.

Secular and non-religious rebel groups, such as the Free Syrian Army, accused Isis of brutality against civilians, but Isis outgunned its enemies and a real opportunity to defeat the group during its embryonic stage was missed.

IS's recent gains in Iraq were helped by the post-war sectarian political structure backed by the US and Iran that made Sunnis feel vulnerable.

Former Iraqi prime minister Nouri al-Maliki's effort to stay in power by using sectarianism to defeat his rivals weakened the Sunni Awakening Councils who fought against al-Qaida.

And US airstrikes aim to stop IS advancing toward the oil-rich north only.

It is reported that each IS member is paid $200 (£120) a month in areas with high poverty and unemployment.

The focus should be on depriving IS of its financial and military resources – not another military adventure.

For ordinary Muslims, IS is the anti-Islamic State.

  • Mohammed Samaana is a freelance writer based in Belfast

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