Muslims increasingly perceive ISIL and Boko Haram as criminal rather than religious organisations.
By Linda Karadaku for Southeast European Times in Pristina -- 30/07/14
Muslims are distancing themselves from extremist organisations. [AFP]
Many Muslims are increasingly critical of the Islamic state -- formerly known as the Islamic State of Iraq and Levant (ISIL) -- Boko Haram and other Islamic extremist groups, experts said.
Such organisations are perceived by Muslims in the Balkans as criminal, using religion to cover their brutal actions, said Dashamir Berxulli, a professor at the Pristina University in Kosovo.
"The most natural action of the Albanian Muslims in practice is to distance immediately from this approach, and, moreover, to identify with pure Islam and with European values," Berxulli told SETimes.
Many throughout the Islamic community reacted after extremists issued a fatwa last week, ordering females in the area around Mosul, Iraq, to undergo genital mutilation and expelled Christians while confiscating their properties.
"They are killing people. It is a sin," Drita Dauti, a self-employed woman in Tirana, Albania, told SETimes.
Officials said such practices are violating fundamental human rights and are of grave concern.
"This is not the will of Iraqi people, or the women of Iraq in these vulnerable areas covered by terrorists," Jacqueline Badcock, UN resident and humanitarian co-ordinator in Iraq, told Reuters.
Thousands of Muslims are murdered every day by other Islamic extremists, said Mehmet Gormez, head of Turkey religious affairs directorate (Diyanet) at the World Islamic Scholars, Peace, Moderation and Common Sense Initiative conference in Istanbul on July 19th.
"They are being killed by their brothers, not only in Syria and Iraq, but also in Libya, Pakistan, Africa and Myanmar," Hurriyet quoted Gormez as saying.
Gormez said the crimes committed by ISIL and Boko Haram show that the common values of the Islamic civilisation are fading in modern times and an effort is needed from the Islamic world to revive them.
Diyanet established a 10-member contact group to promote peace in the Islamic world. The group will meet officials, religious groups and scholars to propose and discuss solutions for peace in conflict areas.
"The main reasons behind the conflict in Syria, Iraq and other troubled regions are not religion and sects, but the desire to gain interest and power from these sectarian differences," Gormez added.
Initially, there was probably some sympathy for ISIL because of the opposition to Syrian President Bashar al Assad, said Taulant Hodaj, a lawyer in Pristina.
"By now, [Muslims] saw that they act against any normal thing in the countries they operate," Hodaj told SETimes.
Hodaj said the brutality discredited ISIL in in the public eye, as did the YouTube videos by Kosovo recruits who set their Kosovo passports on fire.
Many of their actions in the conflict zones are contrary to Islamic principles, said Faton Arifi of Struga, Macedonia.
"The basis of Islam is peace and tolerance. Islam does not call at any moment for war, murder or similar things that are being done by these groups. That is why I see contradictions when they say they act in the name of Islam, but actually work against its values," Arifi told SETimes.
Correspondent Miki Trajkovski in Skopje contributed to this report.
What can the Islamic world do to further distance itself from extremist organisations? Share your thoughts in the comments area.