Editorial: Break the silence on Isis

Isis controls large areas in Syria and Iraq.

Isis controls large areas in Syria and Iraq.

One of the most pernicious expressions of belief in a cause is the refusal to denounce the crimes of co-believers, on the grounds that this might give succour to perceived enemies. It is this that apparently drives the refusal of many morally upstanding South African Jews to condemn the detentions without trial, collective punishments and other human rights violations perpetrated by the state of Israel.

It also appears to underpin the seeming reluctance of many Muslims to openly repudiate the monstrous actions of self-professed Islamic movements such as Boko Haram and Isis – or QSIS, as an Egyptian group has asked that it be called (see State of confusion). For this reason, the Mail & Guardian applauds the online petition by South African Muslims rejecting “the murders, kidnapping and violence against innocent people, destruction of schools and sacred spaces and forced conversions” by such groups in the name of Islam.

  We also welcome the Jamiatul Ulama of South Africa’s distancing itself from their “atrocities, massacres and extrajudicial punishments”.
According to the author of the petition, economist Sha’ista Goga, some suggest that Muslims should automatically support the extremists because they are Muslims. Yet how could Allah, whose 99 names include “the Most Compassionate” and “the Bestower of Peace”, smile on the online decapitation of a journalist, the taking and execution of hostages, and the kidnapping of young girls, coupled with threats to sell them into slavery?

Isis forces those in the areas it controls to live according to its interpretation of Sunni Islam and sharia law. It is accused of violence against Shia Muslims, Christians, Yazidis and anyone else who won’t submit. It has released dozens of videos parading its ill-treatment of civilians, dispelling any possibility that it is the blameless victim of Western propaganda.

What has become of the historical tolerance shown by Islamic rulers for religious and ethnic minorities? It is particularly obnoxious that the caliphates proclaimed by Isis and Boko Haram claim to speak for all Muslims, and to command their allegiance. To show that this is false, it is vital that moderate, democratic Muslims stand up and be counted.

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