More Muslims rail against extremists

Lori Hinnant
Associated Press

In tweets, in street gatherings and in open letters, moderate Muslims around the world are insisting Islamic State extremists don't speak for their religion. Many are also frustrated that anyone might think they do, and a backlash has already begun.

This week's videotaped beheading of a French mountaineer by militants linked to the Islamic State group prompted heartsick fury among Muslims in France and elsewhere, torn between anger at the atrocities committed in the name of Islam and frustration that they have to defend themselves at all.

The outcry extends to Metro Detroit, where many Muslims denounce the extremism as a misrepresentation of their faith.

A woman stands next to a placard reading "No to terrorism" during a demonstration called by muslims groups to denounce the "barbarism" of Islamic State militants on Friday outside Paris's main mosque, two days after the beheading of a French national by jihadists aligned to the group in Algeria.

"They're executing and killing innocent people," said Masood Khan, a real estate investor from Shelby Township. "I don't agree with it at all. … This is not Islam. I feel like ISIS has their own agenda. They're using the name of Islam to do whatever they want to do."

Dawood Zwink, executive director of the Michigan Muslim Community Council, cautioned that the extremists' actions appear to be tactics aimed at sparking an immediate reaction.

"We reject this because this is just people manipulating the situation," he said. "It's manipulation."

Herve Gourdel was the fifth Western hostage decapitated in recent weeks by Islamic extremists — this time, the militants said, as revenge for France's decision to join airstrikes against the Islamic State group.

The head of France's largest mosque called for Muslims to rally Friday in Paris to condemn Gourdel's slaying and show unity against terrorism, saying Islamic State's "deadly ideology" had nothing to do with Islam. Within hours of the call, the rector of the Bordeaux mosque, Tareq Oubrou, said French Muslims need not demonstrate in the name of Islam — but should be joined by everyone.

"They are doubly affected, because this crime touched one of our countrymen and because this crime was carried out in the name of our religion," Oubrou told RTL radio.

The same debate played out elsewhere. The hashtag campaign #notinmyname — or #pasenmonnom in French — initiated by British Muslims who wanted to show their opposition to extremist violence, spawned a #MuslimApologies backlash by those who thought the sense of regret was overwrought.

"Nowhere does the Quran say other religions or nations must be attacked. Cutting people's heads off is really the most despicable. If airstrikes can stop these fundamentalist, aggressive ideas from spreading, I am all for it," said 65-year-old Enes Mustafic.

Another congregant, Omer Jamak, questioned the devotion and even sanity of anyone who thought otherwise.

"According to Islam, nobody is allowed to be evil to others. Nobody has the right to do such a thing. I am against everything they do down there like every sane person is," Jamak said.

In Metro Detroit, Dawud Walid, director of the Michigan chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, said headlines about the Islamic State are often frustrating in his work.

Walid said he's been speaking out against excessive force by police after the fatal shooting of a young black man in Ferguson, Missouri.

"I received calls and emails from fellow Americans who say, 'Why are you worried about what's going in Ferguson? Stop ISIS.' That is ridiculous," said Walid, a black Muslim.

"My primary responsibility as an American citizen is to try to make America more of a just place," Walid said. "People in Iraq and Syria can't even fix their own problems. What am I supposed to be doing from Detroit?"

U.S. Muslim leaders and scholars issued an open letter Wednesday denouncing Islamic State militants point by point, notably on "the killing of innocents" and jihad.

Muqtedar Khan, professor of political science at the University of Delaware and author of "American Muslims, Bridging Faith and Freedom," said Muslim condemnations after the 9/11 attacks failed to dent the reach of extremists.

"They are beginning to react the way they should have on Sept. 12, 2001," Khan said. "Muslims have gotten really tired of these groups that bring nothing, that have no positive impact at all among their societies."

Detroit News staff writer Mark Hicks contributed.

Coalition grows

American warplanes and drones hit Islamic State tanks, Humvees, checkpoints and bunkers in airstrikes Friday targeting the extremists in Syria and Iraq, as the U.S.-led coalition expanded to include Britain, Denmark and Belgium.