General Allen was the commander in Afghanistan who issued an abject and embarrassing video apology to “the noble people of Afghanistan” for the alleged desecration of a Qur’an at a U.S. air base. Here he is assuming what all Western leaders assume: that the Islamic State is perverting the true teachings of Islam, and that these Muslim leaders will be eager to show that to be the case. But it is increasingly clear to everyone that this is just whistling in the dark: even the Guardian sees through it. “US Envoy: To Defeat ISIS, We Must Highlight ‘Our Profound Respect’ for Islam,” by Patrick Goodenough, CNS News, October 29, 2014 (thanks to Lookmann):
(CNSNews.com) – A global effort to counter claims by the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS/ISIL) that it is acting in the name of Islam must include a counter-narrative that highlights “our profound respect” for the religion, the administration’s point man in the anti-ISIS coalition said this week.Retired Marine Corps Gen. John Allen was speaking in Kuwait, where representatives of more than a dozen Islamic and Western met to discuss using public communications to combat ISIS (also known as Da’esh – an acronym for the Arabic rendering of the group’s name, ad-Dawlah al-Islamiyah fil-Iraq wa ash-Sham).
“As we seek to expose Da’esh’s true nature,” Allen told the gathering on Monday, “we must also tell a positive story, one that highlights our respect – our profound respect for Islam’s proud traditions, its rich history, and celebration of scholarship and family and community.”
“We must work with clerics and scholars and teachers and parents to tell the story of how we celebrate Islam, even as we show that Da’esh perverts it.”
The conference in Kuwait City brought together officials from leading Arab states, Turkey, France, Britain and the U.S. to discuss ways their governments are working to counter ISIS’ message.
The jihadist group, which controls large parts of Syria and Iraq and has declared a “caliphate” in those areas, runs a dynamic propaganda and recruitment operation, including a full-color online magazine, video clips, and an active social media presence.
The Qur’an and other Islamic texts, along with viewpoints of historical and modern-day Muslim scholars, are central to its messaging, and the U.S.-led coalition is prioritizing attempts to counter the purported religious justifications for its actions.
Allen said that ISIS propaganda serves both to attract recruits and “perverts the innocent.”
“It is only when we contest Da’esh’s presence online and deny the legitimacy of its message – the message that it sends to vulnerable young people – and as we expose Da’esh for the un-Islamic, criminal cult of violence that it really is, it is only then that Da’esh will be truly defeated.”
He said every member of the coalition had a role to play in combating the image ISIS portrays of itself.
“Da’esh’s online messengers present themselves as the true and victorious representatives of Islam. They seek to portray themselves as winners, true leaders worthy of financial support that attracts and radicalizes foreign fighters,” he said.
“I believe every coalition partner, every one, has a unique and a vital role to play in striking down this image – this image within the context of our respective cultural, religious, and national norms.”
Allen noted that leading religious figures in the region have spoken out against ISIS on religious grounds.
Last August, the grand mufti of Saudi Arabia declared that ISIS’ ideas and violent conduct made it “enemy number one of Islam.” The same month, Egypt’s grand mufti launched an Internet-based campaign to discredit ISIS, and urged media to stop using any name for the group that incorporates the word “Islamic.”
More than 120 Islamic figures last month signed a letter to ISIS leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi – who calls himself “Caliph Ibrahim” and has called on jihadists everywhere to swear loyalty to him – challenging him on religious grounds….
And that challenge was as hypocritical as it was revealing.