TAGUM CITY — Dubbed as the successor of the extremist group Al-Qaeda, the growing threat of armed operations of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) across the troubled Middle East has drawn mixed reactions from Catholics and Muslims elsewhere.
“Many Christians [and civilians] are suffering because of the ruthlessness of the ISIS and militant groups of like persuasion and brutality,” Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines, President Archbishop Socrates Villegas, said in an emailed statement.
Various postings in the Internet indicate that ISIS “directs violence against Shia Muslims, indigenous Assyrian, Chaldean, Syriac and Armenian Christians, Yazidis, Druze, Shabaks and Mandeans in particular.”
The group has already claimed responsibility to scattered incidents of attacks against religious minorities in Iraq.
“Thousands have been displaced and must now live as refugees in often squalid conditions because of those who take it upon themselves to kill and to terrorize in the name of God,” Villegas said.
Villegas said “those who use violence in the name of God brings an awful message that religion divides, that faith is oppressive, that belief can engender so much unkindness”.
Datu Muss Lidasan, executive director of the Al Qalam Institute for Islamic Identities and Dialogue in Southeast Asia, in his tweeter account, said: “Islam cannot live in isolation with other religions. The very essence of Islam is peace and mercy to mankind. ISIS does the very opposite.”
“How can we even call ourselves Muslims when we cannot treat our fellow human beings with respect of the dignity that they deserve?,” Lidasan asked, stressing that “Islam is a religion of peace”.
Abdul Hussein Salipada, 20, a Tausug youth leader, said that “spreading the Islam religion through violence is an insult to the teachings of Allah. ISIS’s act of killing civilians is opposite to the teaching of Allah in the Quoran.”
“As a Muslim youth, I should be an instrument of love and peace to others. Mercy or compassion is a core virtue in Islam. What ISIS is doing should not be generalized and attributed as act of the whole Islam,” Salipada said.
Salipada added that ISIS promotes religious violence and regards those who do not agree with its interpretations as infidels and apostates.
The Moro group Suara Bangsamoro said it is not familiar with ISIS and admits it is clueless as to whether or not ISIS shared the same belief in Islam as many common Muslims do.
“Their [ISIS] methods and objectives are strongly condemnable like the genocide of Kurds and Shia [or Shiites]. This is not within the tenets of Islam,” said Jerome Aba, Spokesperson of Suara Bangsamoro.
“As far as we are concerned, ISIS is a living contradiction of our Islam teachings. Is ISIS really for the protection of the Muslims? Or ISIS is the same as Al-Qaeda and the Abu Sayaff which were used by the CIA to sow terror,” Aba said.
“We don’t want to judge them [ISIS] using religion as a sole criterion but using the lens of human rights and peace their acts are certainly not of Islam,” Aba said
According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, the Islamic State now has an army of more than 50,000 fighters in Syria. (davaotoday.com)