ThinkProgress had a good article about how a sensible American Imam explained to Muslim teenagers that the Islamic State’s propaganda is contrary to the authoritative teachings and the historic practice of Islam.
When people are ignorant of their own religion, they are vulnerable to those who try to sell them a twisted version of it. The best cure for ignorance is accurate knowledge.
The disturbing thing to me about the article is that Imam Mohamid Magid’s effort is necessary in the first place. It is disturbing that ISIS has such a big presence on American social media. The New York Times reported that ISIS sends out an estimated 500 million messages a day via 46,000 Twitter accounts.
It also is disturbing that ISIS propaganda has an impact. I can understand radical Muslim movements with grievances against the United States, Israel and other Western countries. I do not volunteer to become a victim of such movements, nor advocate that others do so, but they are understandable in a way that ISIS is not.
The primary targets of ISIS are other Muslims and harmless religious minorities who have been living in peace in majority-Muslim countries, and the images that ISIS broadcasts of be-headings and burnings are manifestations of sadistic cruelty. This is very hard to understand.
U.S. government officials estimate that 150 young Americans have gone or tried to go to Syria to join ISIS, the New York Times reported. Imam Magid said some of them were no doubt mentally ill, and I’m sure that is true.
Eric Hoffer pointed out years ago in his book, The True Believer, that people who join extremist mass movements are not those who are rooted in a traditional religion, but people who are uprooted from their culture and desperately need something to give them sense of meaning and belonging.
How This Imam Has Kept Americans From Joining the Islamic State by Igor Volsky and Victoria Fleischer for ThinkProgress.
U.S. Muslims Take On ISIS’ Recruiting Machine by Laurie Goodstein for the New York Times.