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IS and Islam: should Muslims distance themselves?

After the terror of Paris, Muslims feel they have to explain themselves. The accusation: Islam and IS belong together.

ISIS is deeply un-Islamic. Photo: dpa

When, like this week, the self-proclaimed “Islamic State” and Islam are discussed, these two positions seem to exist: First, IS has nothing to do with Islam. Second, IS is the result of a religion that glorifies violence; radicalization is laid out in the Koran. Anyone who argues in this way draws a direct line from Islam to IS. Similar to those who write on Facebook and Twitter that it would be better not to pray for Paris: Right now one has had enough of religions.

So at the beginning there is the question: Is IS an internal Islamic problem? Without Islam there would be no “Islamic State”, at the same time, as Islamic scholars keep saying, ISIS is deeply un-Islamic. A paradox.

It is a battle over concepts, narratives and ideologies. It is being fought globally, with Kalashnikovs, YouTube videos and the Koran.

The reporters of the weekend were in Nice, Berlin and in Jeddah in Saudi Arabia. In Cairo you spoke to the Grand Sheikh of the al-Azhar Mosque, one of the greatest authorities in Sunni Islam. And they watched a Turkish preacher rail against ISIS on the Internet.

Anouk Beslim

"The terrorists have certainly changed the life of us Muslims in France more than that of any other citizen"

"The terrorists have certainly changed the life of us Muslims in France more than that of any other citizen," says Anouk Beslim. She is 21 and will soon be a nurse. Beslim lives in Ariane, a suburb of Nice. It's one of those places that sprang up for North African immigrants in the 1960s. The people here distrust the press, Anouk Beslim is one of the few who even wants to speak - but only under a false name.

Since the attacks in Paris, Beslim has not been in downtown Nice, her birthplace, nor has she been to her regular café with her friends. She actually didn't do anything but follow the news about the terrorist hunt. Also out of fear of rabble.

After the attacks on the editors of the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo Beslim was attacked several times in January. “A teenager tore the veil off my head in the middle of the street,” she says. She constantly has to explain herself.

It is a battle for concepts and narratives, fought globally with Kalashnikovs, Youtube and the Koran. You can read what the scholars of the Islamic world are opposing the "Islamic State" in the weekend on November 21-22, 2015. Also: How does life in Paris continue after the attacks? And: "Polar bears are simply not helpful," says Srđa Popović. The revolutionary advisor in conversation about strategies to combat climate change. At the kiosk, eKiosk or with a practical weekend subscription.

The possible conservative presidential candidate Alain Juppé this week demanded that French Muslims should publicly distance themselves from fanaticism and barbarism.

The French Council of Muslims is now working on a charter and a label that it wants to bestow on imams in the country in order to marginalize radical preachers. The presumption of innocence is suspended.

At the moment, two things come together that make it difficult for Muslims in Europe, says Beslim: The attacks scared people. And they don't want to see that Islam is peaceful.

Beslim converted to Islam five years ago. Since then, hardly a day has passed that she does not have to justify herself for the atrocities committed by IS.

Should Muslims distance themselves from Islamist terror? Why is this required of them? What do you mean?

Discuss with us!

You can read the cover story “Against Terror” in the weekend from 21./22. November 2015.