The prime minister and media should stop legitimizing the terrorist group rampaging through Syria and Iraq by describing it as “Islamic State,” according to a coalition of imams and organizations representing British Muslims. Use of the extremists’ preferred title gives credibility to the Sunni militants and slurs the Islamic faith, they said yesterday.
Signatories to a letter to British Prime Minister David Cameron, including Sughra Ahmed, president of the Islamic Society of Britain, admit that UK Muslims need to do more to dissuade their young men from being misled into taking part in the group’s “hatred and poison.”
“We shall take every opportunity to continue to say clearly and loudly ‘not in our name’ and ‘not for our faith,’” they wrote.
The letter’s authors also called for the prime minister to reassess his own language. Cameron, in common with other senior politicians, has repeatedly made reference to the Islamic State, formerly known as the Islamic State in Syria and the Levant (ISIL).
“We do not believe the terror group responsible should be given the credence and standing they seek by styling themselves ‘Islamic State.’ It is neither Islamic, nor is it a state,” wrote signatories including Mohammed Abbasi from the Association of British Muslims and Amjad Malik QC, president of the Association of Muslim Lawyers. “The group has no standing with faithful Muslims, nor among the international community of nations. It clearly will never accept the obligations that any legitimate state has, including the responsibility to protect citizens and uphold human rights.”
“So we believe the media, civic society and governments should refuse to legitimize these ludicrous caliphate fantasies by accepting or propagating this name,” the letter read. “We propose that ‘UnIslamic State’ could be an accurate and fair alternative name to describe this group and its agenda — and we will begin to call it that.”
The intervention marks an intensification of a campaign by prominent British Muslims to deter young men from seeking adventure with the militants. It follows a recent decision by Muslim leaders to issue a fatwa condemning British extremists.
Six senior Islamic academics endorsed the fatwa last month, describing Britons allied to Islamic State cells as “heretics.” It is feared that as many as 500 Britons have traveled to Syria or Iraq since 2011 to join the group and its affiliates.
Dilwar Hussain from the New Horizons in British Islam charity, and one of the 18 signatories, said it was also important for British Muslims to be seen to be speaking out against the extremist views of men such as Anjem Choudary, who was interviewed by the Observer last week.
Choudary, who acknowledges the terrorist group’s leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi as “the caliph of all Muslims and the prince of the believers,” claimed that Washington’s foreign policy was to blame for the beheading of US journalist James Foley.
Hussain, formerly a commissioner at the Commission for Racial Equality, said: “Choudhary organizes rallies to which a handful of people turn up. His views have been roundly condemned by Muslim leaders, imams and citizens up and down the country.”
“He says he would rather live there, in this so-called ‘caliphate.’ He’s welcome to, but what we want to make very clear is that Muslims who like living here, in Britain, don’t recognize his views, or those of [ISIL]. That’s not us and it’s not our religion,” he added.
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