After its Military Defeat in Mosul, Efforts underway to Eliminate ISIS Ideology

After its Military Defeat in Mosul, Efforts underway to Eliminate ISIS Ideology

Sunday, 18 February, 2018 - 07:45
Islamic scholars aim to rid Mosul residents of extremist ideas following ISIS' military defeat in Iraq. (Reuters)
Mosul – Asharq Al-Awsat
The Iraqi city of Mosul has entered a new phase in its battle against the ISIS terrorist organization. After the group’s military defeat, efforts are underway to eliminate its ideology in the northern city.

In a classroom of the University of Mosul, around 50 volunteers have undergone a week's training on how to combat the extremists’ ideology, said an Agence France-Presse report on Saturday.

The ulema, or Islamic scholars, aim to set up "brigades" tasked with ridding Mosul residents of extremist ideas following the city's recapture last July which ended three years of ISIS rule.

"Mosul must be liberated from the thinking of ISIS after having been liberated militarily," said Mussaab Mahmud.

"We were deceived by ISIS ideas and now we are trying to free ourselves from its ideology," said the 30-year-old day laborer.

The first group of volunteers came from all sectors of Mosul society, including mechanics, teachers and a sheikh.

The men aged from 25 to 45 signed up on Facebook for the course run by the Ulema Forum of Mosul, Iraq's second largest city which was left shattered by the months-long battle to expel ISIS.

The classes are being conducted by five teachers who are experts in Islamic jurisprudence from Mosul and Tikrit, a city to the south that was also previously under brutal ISIS rule.

"The lessons are concentrated on human rights, human development, peaceful coexistence and communal peace," the forum's president Sheikh Saleh al-Obeidi told AFP.

He said participants were tutored on "faith, Islamic jurisprudence and the Hadith (record of the sayings of the Prophet Mohammad) to allow them to counter the ideas of ISIS and its intellectual terrorism".

ISIS imposed its own rigid interpretation of religious law on all aspects of everyday life, branding opponents "apostates" who should be killed.

Sheikh Obeidi said the brigades will go out and "combat the extremist ideas on social media and by calling on residents in their homes".

His forum was established in 2014 in the autonomous region of Iraqi Kurdistan, to the north of Mosul, by ulema who had fled the city.

Sheikh Obeidi said that the classes would expand to cover "all social groups and both sexes", although it was still looking for permanent premises in the war-battered city.

Priority will be the children indoctrinated in ISIS-run schools where they were radicalized and given weapons training.

"As a teacher myself, what I've learnt here will allow me as far as possible to erase the radical ISIS ideas instilled in pupils, because they were the worst affected and influenced," said Ibrahim Mohammad Hamid, 27.

"I will go to the parents because the home and the family play a major role in spreading the idea of tolerance and coexistence," he said.

Mohammad Abaiji, a 24-year-old imam, or prayer leader, said he would run seminars in the mosque for children "to spread enlightened ideas, because Islam is a religion of tolerance".

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