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Islamic authority: Extremists no 'Islamic state'

Published:Monday | August 25, 2014 | 8:00 AM
In this Friday, December 28, 2012 photo, Muslims arrive to attend the Friday prayer at Al-Azhar mosque in Cairo, Egypt. Dar el-Ifta, the top Islamic authority in Egypt, revered by many Muslims worldwide, launched yesterday an Internet-based campaign aimed particularly at the West against an extremist group in Syria and Iraq, saying it is not an Islamic state. - AP FILE

CAIRO, Egypt (AP):

The top Islamic authority in Egypt, revered by many Muslims worldwide, launched an Internet-based campaign yesterday challenging an extremist group in Syria and Iraq by saying it should not be called an "Islamic state".

The campaign by the Dar el-Ifta, the top authority that advises Muslims on spiritual and life issues, adds to the war of words by Muslim leaders across the world targeting the Islamic State group, which controls wide swathes of Iraq and Syria. Its violent attacks, including mass shootings, destroying Shiite shrines, targeting minorities and beheadings, including American journalist James Foley, have shocked Muslims and non-Muslims alike.

The Grand Mufti of Egypt, Shawki Allam, previously said the extremists violate all Islamic principles and laws and described the group as a danger to Islam as a whole. Now, the Dar el-Ifta authority he oversees will suggest foreign media drop using 'Islamic State' in favour of the 'al-Qaida Separatists in Iraq and Syria', or the acronym 'QSIS', said Ibrahim Negm, an adviser to the mufti.

This is part of a campaign that "primarily aims to correct the image of Islam that has been tarnished in the West because of these criminal acts, and to exonerate humanity from such crimes that defy natural instincts and spread hate between people", Negm was quoted as saying by Egypt's state news agency MENA. "We also want to reaffirm that all Muslims are against these practices, which violate the tolerate principles of Islam."

Negm said the Internet and social-media campaign will include opinions by Islamic scholars from around the world about the group and its claims to represent Islam. It also will include a hashtag campaign on Twitter and videos from Muslims denouncing the group and its methods.