SHAFAQNA – An organisation which represents and works with young British Muslims has declared what it is calling “a Jihad against Isis”.
The Muslim Youth League UK says it wants to deter people from joining or supporting the so-called Islamic State.
The League’s President, a community activist from Glasgow, described the campaign as an “ideological war” against terror groups.
Shaykh Rehan Ahmed Raza said: “Our efforts are aimed at deterring further Isis recruitment in Britain and defending the Muslim community, who feel their religion has been hijacked.”
Among those who have been radicalised by Isis include Aqsa Mahmood, who left her Glasgow home in November 2013 to travel to Syria, where it is thought she married an Islamic State fighter.
The Islamic scholar spoke about the campaign at a mosque in Rutherglen, after addressing young people and parents about the dangers of online radicalisation.
He told the audience: “All extremists are cancers to society, because they destroy a health society. We have to scream at the top of our lungs that these people are not representative of Muslims.
“It’s very important for parents not to think that their child in their own bedroom is protected. They can be safer out in the streets at ten o’clock at night, than in their own bedroom at 10 o’clock at night.”
The Muslim Youth League says Isis and other extremist groups have no link with Islam or the Muslim community, which numbers around 75,000 in Scotland.
It has also criticised what it called the “generalised Islamophobic labeling of Muslims” as extremists or terrorists “by the media, politicians and the general public”.
In a statement the group said: “Social media has proven to be a key tool for Isis to promote their message and recruit young Muslims.
“As a countermeasure, MYL have revealed their strategy to use Twitter and other popular social networking sites to spread the true and peaceful image of Islam.
“The barbarism and lack of respect for the sanctity of human life shown by Isis is a challenge to every civilised value, not least to the tenets of Islam.”
Humza Yousaf, minister for international development, welcomed the initiative.
He said: “I applaud this initiative from the Muslim Youth League UK. Those who perpetuate terrorism in the name of Islam do nothing but act against the teachings of the Prophet Muhammad. The MYL UK’s proposals should be widely supported as the most powerful tool against extremist ideology is for progressive Muslims to challenge it.”
Superintendent Danny Hatfield, of Police Scotland, said: “We are aware of the Muslim Youth League and support any community initiative that challenges extremism and radicalisation in a sensitive and proportionate manner.
“In line with the rest of the UK, threats connected with the Syrian conflict is a high priority in Scotland.
“The recent reported on-line activity of terrorists groups has also highlighted their ability to circulate extremist propaganda throughout the world and young and often vulnerable people are at risk of being radicalised online.
“Police Scotland works with a wide variety of different groups to raise awareness of the dangers of radicalisation.”