Muslim groups condemn killing of U.S. journalist

OIC, CAIR and al-Azhar described ISIS killing of Steven Sotloff as ‘violation of Islam’

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Leading Muslim institutions denounced on Wednesday the killing of Steven Sotloff, the second U.S. journalist to be executed by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, after President Barrack Obama vowed to build a coalition to “degrade and destroy” the militant group.

“This is obviously a criminal act which we greatly denounce,” Maha Akeel of the Saudi-based Organization of the Islamic Conference told Al Arabiya News, voicing the same condemnation the group issued when ISIS released a video of the execution of U.S. journalist James Foley.


“They claim that they do their acts in the name of Islam but their doing has nothing to do with Islam,” Akeel, who is in charge of OIC publications, said, adding that the group is currently organizing a conference of foreign ministers of its 57-member states to discuss ways of curbing ISIS and defeating it.

“We can’t call them an Islamic group, but a criminal one,” she explained, emphasizing Al-Azhar’s online campaign, which urges people and news outlets to stop calling ISIS Islamic.

Al-Azhar is the top Islamic authority in Egypt and it is also highly revered by many Muslims worldwide.

Former Deputy Imam of al-Azhar Sheikh Mahmoud Ashour told Al Arabiya News that Sotloff’s killing was not only against humanity but “there is no religion that accepts the killing of a human soul.”

Ashour cited a verse from the Quran saying “Do not kill any soul, which God has made forbidden, except in just cause.”

He added: “The soul includes any soul whether Muslim or non-Muslim, therefore [their act] is violating God’s will and violating what Prophet Mohammed has brought.”

“The human soul is sacred and protected in Islam,” he stressed, describing Islam as “innocent” of such wrongdoings.

On Tuesday, the largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization in the United States, the Council on American-Islamic Relations, published a statement on its website saying: “No words can describe the horror, disgust and sorrow felt by Muslims in America and worldwide at the unconscionable and un-Islamic violence perpetrated by the terror group ISIS. The criminal actions of ISIS are antithetical to the faith of Islam.”

“Our hearts go out to Mr. Sotloff's loved ones and to all the loved ones of those murdered by ISIS,” CAIR added.

“In August, CAIR had condemned the killing by ISIS of journalist James Foley and had called for Sotloff’s immediate release.”

Like Ashour, CAIR cited another Quran verse highlighting that the act was in violation of Islamic jurisprudence.

“[The truly virtuous are] they … who give food – however great be their own want of it – to the needy, the orphan and the captive,” CAIR said, quoted a verse from the Quran.

They also recalled a precedence set by Prophet Mohammed strongly condemning a military commander who, without the prophet’s knowledge, had harmed prisoners.

“Another hadith has the prophet offering his own shirt to a man who gave his shirt to a prisoner of war who was captured without one,” it added.

There were also reactions on social media.

On Twitter, one Bahraini reacted to Sotlof’s killing by tweeting a headline: “Bahrainis show reaction to Sotloff killing: Our friend who ISIS killed” from the Bahrain Mirror website published Wednesday.

Not only Bahrain, Sotloff, is a veteran war reporter well-read on the history and culture of the Middle East. He was captured over a year ago while crossing into Syria from Turkey.

However, some Arab Twitter users expressed shock that Sotloff was also a holder of the Israeli nationality.

“The Jewish journalist Sotloff, who ISIS killed, is nothing but an Israeli spy,” one Tweep read, while another questioned if “Sotlof risked his life in the Middle East to carry stories of Muslims who want freedom?”

On Wednesday, Obama reaffirmed that Washington would not be intimidated by ISIS.

However, the president did not clarify a timeline for deciding on a strategy to go after the extremist group’s operations in Syria.

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