Muslims and Scholars Condemn ISIS for Betraying Religion of 'Mercy' and 'Compassion'

The American-Muslim community and rights groups are pushing back against Islamophobia, which they worry is on the rise due to heightened concern about the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (or ISIS).

On Wednesday, 120 religious scholars and Muslim leaders released an open letter refuting the ideology of ISIS, calling on its supporters to repent, and debunking “the falsehood that ISIS in any way represents Islamic beliefs or practices,” as Nihad Awad, executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations put it.

The letter reads, in part:

But the message clearly hasn’t reached everyone. Later this month, a series of anti-Islamist ads paid for by a blogger-run organization called the American Freedom Defense Initiative (AFDI)—listed by the Southern Poverty Law Center as a hate group—will appear in two New York City subway stations and on 100 city buses. A 2012 federal court decision ruled that the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, which runs the region’s mass transit system, must run so-called “viewpoint ads,” though they will include a disclaimer that the views they express are not shared by the MTA.

“It is unfortunate that segments of American society continue to demonize Muslim Americans.”
—Azhar Azeez, Islamic Society of North America

One of the ads, according to the Huffington Post, “shows two photos side by side—on the left, a photo of a British man in a recording booth wearing a red tracksuit, and on the right, a picture of James Foley and his black-clad executioner, moments before Foley’s death. The man pictured on the left is suspected of being the same person as Foley’s killer. ‘Yesterday’s moderate is today’s headline,’ reads the ad.” Another reads: “Islamic Jew-hatred: It’s in the Quran.”

The ads allegedly highlight “the uselessness of the distinction between ‘moderate’ and ‘extremist’ Muslims,” AFDI’s Pamela Geller explained at Breitbart.

At a rally outside New York City Hall on Tuesday, the the National Network for Arab American Communities called on New Yorkers to “denounce the anti-Muslim hate advertisements.”

“These ads are vile, hateful, indecent and only serve to fan the flames of intolerance,” Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.) said Tuesday. “They have no place in a civilized society and should be resoundingly denounced throughout the four corners of our great and diverse city.”