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Don't Refer To IS As 'Islamic,' Urges Russian Council Of Muftis


Russian Grand Mufti Ravil Gainutdin in Moscow in December 2014

Russian Grand Mufti Ravil Gainutdin in Moscow in December 2014

The international community should not use the word "Islamic" when referring to the militant group Islamic State, according to the first deputy chairman of the Council of Muftis of Russia, Rushan Abbyasov.

Abbyasov said that leaders of the Council of Muftis of Russia had joined representatives of several Arab countries in calling for the use of the word "Islamic" to be dropped when referring to IS in the media and elsewhere in public discourse.

Abbyasov made his comments in a live interview with Russia's Vesti FM radio station ahead of a meeting in Moscow with diplomatic representatives of Yemen, Iraq, Palestine, Kuwait, Algeria, Jordan, and Sudan, pro-Moscow Russian news site RIA Novosti reported on March 3.

"We have arrived at this idea, that today we can try to neutralize these groups ideologically. At the minimum, we should remove the prefix 'Islamic' [from Islamic State]," Abbyasov was quoted as saying.

The Russian Council of Muftis deputy chairman said that the media and others should refer to thIS "just as [the militants] are positioning themselves -- as terrorists, bandits, and radicals, but we should try to remove the prefix [of "Islamic"] that they have given themselves and which they are trying to play with," Abbyasov told Vesti FM.

Abbyasov said he believed that dropping the term "Islamic" from the name of the militant group would have a significant impact.

"If the international community would not call them 'Islamic' then believe me, they can be destroyed ideologically," he said.

Abbyasov recalled that a group of over 120 Muslim scholars had released an open letter to IS militants and followers recently.

The letter declared that the militant group's ideology was "completely contrary to the essence of Islam," Abbyasov said.

The letter, released in September 2014, used Koranic sources to refute the militants' ideology.

Abbyasov said that the militants had taken elements of the Koran out of context.

"You can pull out any [Koran] quote out of context. To deal with the Koran, you don't only need knowledge of Arabic, but of the many sciences that make it possible to reveal the full meaning of the verses and all the meanings that are inherent in the Holy Koran," he concluded.

Abbyasov's comments come amid increasing concerns in Russia about the threat posed by IS to the country's security. Russia is not only concerned that Russian nationals who fight in Syria could return and commit terrorist acts on Russian soil, but also that the group's ideology could prove a pervasive source of radicalization for Russian Muslims or Muslim foreign laborers from Central Asian countries.

Recent attempts to combat the threats Russia believes are posed by IS include a December 2014 ruling by the Supreme Court that deemed IS a terrorist group. Russia's Federal Security Service (FSB) included the IS group on a "unified list" of 22 terrorist groups published on its website last week.

-- Joanna Paraszczuk

About This Blog

"Under The Black Flag" provides news, opinion, and analysis about the impact of the Islamic State (IS) extremist group in Syria, Iraq, and beyond. It focuses not only on the fight against terrorist groups in the Middle East, but also on the implications for the region and the world. The blog's primary author, James Miller, closely covered the first three years of the Arab Spring, with a focus on Syria, and is now the managing editor of The Interpreter, where he covers Russia's foreign and domestic policy and the Kremlin's wars in Syria and Ukraine. Follow him on Twitter: @Millermena

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