Foreign Policy Blogs

Moderate Muslims Speak Out against Terrorism

Photo Credit: DFID - UK Department for International Development

Yazidi refugees receiving support from the International Rescue Committee. Photo Credit: DFID – UK Department for International Development

ISIS has killed more Muslims than Westerners. Even though the Western media has not covered them extensively, there are Muslims speaking out and fighting against ISIS. The West should do more to support them in their struggle.

Many people in the west often ask why Muslims don’t take a stronger stand against terrorism in general and ISIS in particular, especially given the fact that the main victims of ISIS atrocities are non-westerners living in the Middle East, many of whom are Muslim. The U.N. reported that in the first eight months of 2014, at least 9,347 civilians were slaughtered in Iraq, mostly by ISIS. While many of the victims were Yazidis, Christians, and other minority groups, the UN in a recent report documented many instances of Muslims also being slaughtered.

According to a report in The Daily Beast, ISIS slaughtered three Sunni Muslim women for refusing to provide medical care to members of ISIS; a Sunni imam was murdered for refusing to swear allegiance to ISIS; a Muslim was abducted and beheaded for refusing to swear allegiance to ISIS; a Muslim female doctor was murdered for organizing a protest against the ISIS law that Muslim female doctors must wear face veils; Sunni mosques have been blown up because their Imams refuse to support ISIS; and the list goes on. So many in the West ponder, why don’t more Muslims do more to speak out against these atrocities?

While it is true that there are some Muslims who remain silent either out of fear for their own lives or that of loved ones, the full truth is that Muslims aren’t as silent on this issue as the West portrays them to be. There are Muslims who bravely speak out against terrorism, yet their voices don’t reach the western media. For example, a group of Moroccans have posted a video on the internet recently where they have declared that terrorist organizations like ISIS, Jabhat Al Nusra, Al Qaeda, Hamas, Hezbollah and the Islamic Jihad don’t represent them. The name of the video is titled “Not in my name” and includes Moroccan men and women from all age groups. It was translated into English by MEMRI.

In the video, a young man declared, “Torturing the innocent is barbarism.” Another young man states, “Our religion commands us to help one another,” while still another one stresses, “Islam is freedom and respect.” Even little boys participate, declaring, “Islam is the religion of my forefathers. Islam is good conduct and moral values.” A little girl emphasizes, “Islam means to love one another.” An old woman wearing a hijab proclaims, “Islam is a religion that requires good conduct in practice.” It concludes with a young man stating, “The youth say no to terrorism.”

A group of British Muslims performed a similar “Not in my name” campaign to take a stand against terrorism perpetrated by radical Islamists and posted their statements to YouTube. A British Muslim woman wearing a hijab proclaimed: “ISIS does not represent Islam or any Muslim. We must all unite together and try to stop this group from damaging Islam and damaging Muslims because my religion promotes tolerance for women and you have no respect for women.” Another British Muslim accused ISIS of being un-Islamic, because they kill innocent people. Still another one proclaimed that their Caliphate does not represent the Umma, while another one emphasized that what ISIS is doing is inhumane.

Earlier this week, JerusalemOnline reported that Amazigh activist poet Malika Mazen also condemned ISIS and other Islamist groups: “They use religion to get little girls in order to satisfy their urges. If you really perform jihad for the sake of Allah, you should respect your manliness and your religion rather than use it as an opportunity to get little girls. Be a mujahid for the sake of jihad not sex you dog! These people are wolves! These people are dogs!”

In an interview that JerusalemOnline conducted with Pakistani Muslim human rights activist Kasim Hafeez, he warned what would happen because of the Obama administration’s policy of not intervening in Iraq and Syria: “Firstly, we will see genocide and the systematic eradication of people simply because they are ‘different.’ Secondly, it shows ISIS that they can butcher innocents in full view of the world and the world will not do a thing to intervene.” Kasim noted: “they are emboldened by every excess they are able to push without a response. Their potential is limitless.” He led a campaign for Bnai Brith Canada raising awareness about the letter “N” that was displayed on Christian homes in Iraq in areas that ISIS controls.

A Syrian Kurdish leader proclaimed to JerusalemOnline: “The airstrikes are not stopping ISIS.” Syrian Kurdish leader Sherkoh Abbas concurred on Fox News: “The West is not really doing enough to stop these people by arming the Kurds. The Kurds are the only people in this region that can stop ISIS and I think they should be supported. It’s a joke doing these minor strikes to be honest because ISIS is concentrated on defeating us, so taking out two tanks or three armored vehicles when they have hundreds as well as more sophisticated weapons is not an even fighting. The U.S. needs to intensify the airstrikes and to coordinate with the Kurds.”

As we speak, Kurds are on the front lines risking their lives fighting against ISIS and most of them are Muslim. They continue to fight bravely even though they are not receiving sufficient support from the West, which so far prefers to help groups linked to the Muslim Brotherhood instead. It is time for the West to listen to and support moderate Muslims struggling against ISIS and other terror organizations.



Rachel Avraham

Rachel Avraham is the CEO of the Dona Gracia Center for Diplomacy and the editor of the Economic Peace Center, which was established by Ayoob Kara, who served as Israel's Communication, Cyber and Satellite Minister. For close to a decade, she has been an Israel-based journalist, specializing in radical Islam, abuses of human rights and minority rights, counter-terrorism, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Azerbaijan, Syria, Iran, and other issues of importance. Avraham is the author of “Women and Jihad: Debating Palestinian Female Suicide Bombings in the American, Israeli and Arab Media," a ground-breaking book endorsed by Former Israel Consul General Yitzchak Ben Gad and Israeli Communications Minister Ayoob Kara that discusses how the media exploits the life stories of Palestinian female terrorists in order to justify wanton acts of violence. Avraham has an MA in Middle Eastern Studies from Ben-Gurion University. She received her BA in Government and Politics with minors in Jewish Studies and Middle Eastern Studies from the University of Maryland at College Park.