Metro Detroiters call for end to violence in Iraq as imams decry ISIS’ ‘barbaric behavior’

Mark Hicks
The Detroit News

In the shade fronting Dearborn City Hall on Monday evening, Imam Mustapha Elturk passionately denounced Islamic militants whose crimes in Iraq have shocked Muslims and followers of other faiths worldwide.

“The barbaric behavior of ISIS is abhorred and cannot be justified,” Elturk, with the Islamic Organization of North America, told dozens gathered for a vigil. “The beheading of James Foley and the unjust killing of many innocent people is a clear violation of the holy Quran and teachings of Prophet Muhammad … (ISIS’) actions are neither in the name of Islam nor in the name of the 1.6 billion Muslims worldwide.”

The Imams Council of the Michigan Muslim Community Council held the vigil to remember victims of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, including Foley, the slain American journalist.

Dozens of people carried signs, lit candles and draped themselves in flags. Mansoor Aldilfi of Dearborn Heights thought of his relatives and others in Iraq, who are “being bombarded left and right.” Speaking out against extremists is important, the 24-year-old said, since “whatever they do affects us here.”

Tracey Roberts of Livonia said she was moved by the havoc wreaked in Iraq, where her son served two tours with the Marines. “Watching the country fall apart, quite frankly, is heartbreaking for all of us,” she said, eyes filled with tears. “It’s horrible.”

Sara Al-Busaid of Dearborn carried a large red, white and black Iraq flag. She has been closely watching the violence unfolding in the country where her sister lives and her husband and son are visiting, and wants action from international authorities to halt ISIS.

“We have to stand together with one hand and finish them,” she said.

Syria said Monday it was ready to help confront the rising threat from the Islamic State, but warned the United States against carrying out airstrikes without Damascus’ consent, saying any such attack would be considered an aggression. In seeking to portray itself as a partner for the international community, Syria seemed intent on capitalizing on the growing clamor among some U.S. officials, including military leaders, to expand the current American air campaign in Iraq and to hit them in Syria as well.

President Barack Obama has long been wary of getting dragged into the bloody and complex Syrian civil war that the United Nations says has killed more than 190,000 people. He has resisted intervening militarily in the conflict, even after a deadly chemical weapons attack a year ago that Washington blamed on President Bashar Assad’s government.but the extremist group’s rampage across wide swaths of Iraq, declaration of a state governed by their harsh interpretation of Islamic law in territory spanning the Iraq-Syria border, and grisly beheading of Foley, have injected a new dynamic into those calculations. Now, Obama faces pressure from his own military leaders to go after the extremists inside Syria.

Associated Press contributed.