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Should Muslims Apologize for ISIS’ Atrocities?

Screenshot from "#NotInMyName: ISIS Do Not Represent British Muslims" on YouTube.

Screenshot from “#NotInMyName: ISIS Do Not Represent British Muslims” on YouTube.

Speaking at the United Nations General Assembly on September 24, US President Barack Obama said that “it is time for the world – especially Muslim communities – to explicitly, forcefully, and consistently reject the ideology of al Qaeda and ISIL”.

Obama mentioned Muslim leaders and initiatives, such as the the #NotInMyName campaign, denouncing the ideology and gruesome atrocities of ISIS, a splinter group of Al Qaeda that has come to control large parts of Iraq and Syria using openly brutal, oppressive and violent tactics.

The Active Change Foundation (ACF) launched the campaign in Britain, in the wake of the beheading of British aid worker David Haines, to prove that “ISIS do not represent British Muslims” and that it “has nothing to do with them.”

ACF said about the campaign on the foundation's website:

Islam teaches peace, respect and love. ISIS is hiding behind a false Islam. It’s nothing to do with what we stand for. Tell ISIS that they can’t murder in your name.

The campaign went viral on Twitter with thousands of tweets published under the hashtag #NotInMyName. Here is a sample of those tweets:

However, not all Muslims are comfortable with the fact they are somehow expected or pressured to apologize for crimes they have no hands in or on behalf of groups that commit atrocities in the name of their religion.

After all, they were not the ones who gave ISIS a mandate to kidnap and behead journalists and aid workers, displace and persecute religious and ethnic minorities, execute all those who come in their way and brainwash innocent children into violence and hatred.

Besides, Muslims are themselves victims of this radical group. Only on September 22, lawyer and human rights defender Samira Saleh Al-Naimi was executed by masked men belonging to ISIS when they opened fire at her in a public square in the city of Mosul, Iraq. According to the Gulf Center for Human Rights, ISIS kidnapped Al-Naimi last week from her home after she described the group as ‘barbaric’.

On the Guardian's Comment is Free section, Mehreen Faruqi, a Greens member of parliament in New South Wales Parliament in Australia, wrote that though she knows that ISIS’ actions #AreNotInMyName, she ‘won't be pressured to apologise for them’.

For Faruqi the #NotInMyName campaign implies that ‘Muslims are somehow responsible for the atrocities taking place in Iraq and must speak out against them to prove otherwise’. She adds:

No one can deny that video footage of journalists being beheaded by Isis operatives and ongoing news of vicious massacres are extremely distressing, eliciting a raw emotional response, requiring us to take action. But why should a whole community be compelled to apologise for or distance themselves from despicable actions they have no part in?

On Twitter, the satirical hashtag #MuslimApologies was launched to parody the situation whereby Muslims often find themselves obliged to apologize for and distance themselves from the actions of extremist Islamic groups or individuals.

For many, the contributions of Muslims to humanity seem to have little value in the face of growing Islamophobia. Kam Shaheen reminds us of some of those inventions that have changed the world to make it a better place:

  • Eric Nicolas Schneider

    The question “WHY should a group stand up” is SO IGNORANT. Is is because that GROUP HAS POWER FOR GOOD, and they sit idle. It is because everyone applauds Germans vs Fascism, IsraelLOVEsIran, and Americans to say NOT IN MY NAME during the sick Iraq War. +++ What would the world ask Catholics to do, if a SICK MURDEROUS BUNCH rose killing thousnads under the name of CHRIST? Would you NOT expect all Christians and Bishops to RISE and KICK THEM OUT OF CHURCH etc? Yes – and rightfully so. because we ALL have POWER FOR GOOD, and it is bad enough that people sit so idle as citizens and don’t learn solutions (it is not about protests but about learning the 4,000 solutions at ashoka.org etc!) but it is worse when those PRETENDING to have anything to do with the SACRED DIVINE sit idle, murmuring in their apathy while PERMITTING all around them atrocities from cutting bodies to abuse and murder being comitted in the name of their Christian, muslim or jewish religion. WHAT IF 1 billion muslims LIVED their FAITH & PEACE AND TRUST IN ALLAH IS POWERFUL **LOVE** and created paradise and said NO to all non-sacred VIOLENCE being committed daily in the name of that book? THAT WOULD BE POWERFUL. But now be honest: besides not really caring (being ego as any inhabitant of empire) it is about BEING AFRAID that the neighbour (not the christian or hindu or atheist one) may KILL THEM the next day. That’s why many IMAMs don’t dare taking a stand, too. Or maybe they don’t care because it’s the Sunnites / Shiites being massacred?There is a lot of VIOLENCE IN THAT BOOK. And it is everpresent. And like any Abrahamist religion it is not in tune with the simple sacredness of life but BUGGED with the ideas of empire, culture subjugation and violence these BOOKS WERE BORN IN.

  • Kactuz

    Rather than apologize for things they have no guilt for, such as ISIS, Boko Haram and the actions of other radical Muslims — or any of the hashtags above — I suggest that Muslims apologize for 1300 years of jihad against non-Muslims, or better, for the nefarious actions of their dear prophet. All Muslims accept the hate and violence in the Quran and have no problems with Mohammed’s 10-year war on his neighbors resulting in looting, murder, torture, rape of captives, enslavement of men women and children (at least that is what all of the hadith and early histories, written by Muslims, say). Why don’t Muslims apologize for their prophet’s actions, which they accept?

    Or is it that SOME attacks, some war, some murders, some rapes are OK, depending upon who is doing it.

    • Walter C Boutwell

      excellent question. But also why the deafening silences after each atrocity. There is no ground swell of horror but rather claims of non-involvment as if the major muslim groups are HAPPY someone is doing the good work of rape and slaughter but don’t want to get too closely identified in case there is a back lash

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