Local Muslim leaders speak out against radicalization, ISIS

GLEN ELLYN, Ill. (WLS) -- Muslims in the Chicago area are speaking out against radicalization as they try to shed light on why some are attracted to violence that they say does not represent Islam. Wednesday, a group of Chicago-area Amaddiyya Muslims gathered at the College of DuPage to lead a talk on the radicalization and stigmatization of Muslims in America and the Western World.

A group of imams led the talks, which focused on how terrorists are using Islamic ideology as a tactic to divide Muslims and gain power, and how their brutal methods and ideology have no basis in a true reading of Islam.

Imam Azam Akram talked to students, faculty and others who have gathered in response to a call to "stop the crisis" and get inside what motivates people to turn to terrorism. The group avoided referring to ISIS or the Islamic State, instead choosing to sue the derisive "Daesh," which has been used by President Hollande in France and other world leaders when referring to the radical jihadists.

Daesh is both an acronym for the group's Arabic name - "al-Dawla al-Islamiya fi al-Iraq wa al-Sham" -- and an Arabic word which, depending on how it's conjugated, means a number of insulting things including "something to stomp on."

"This is exactly what they want," Akram says. "They want to instill fear in people, to terrorize people, and we're not going to let that happen as Muslims."

Joined by fellow Ahmaddiyya Muslims -- a sect persecuted, they say, by radical Muslims and some governments, including Pakistan, for preaching non-violence and Islam's true meaning that life is about "love for all and hatred toward none" -- the imam said he speaks throughout the Midwest to combat ignorance that gets ISIS its followers.

"They feed off the ignorance of the masses, number one. Ignorance and then they spread to terror, terror leads to fear, fear leads to hate," he says.

In the aftermath of the Paris attacks and Wednesday's raid of another alleged terror cell, Ahmaddiyya's say radicalization has long been offered as an easy answer to the challenges of growing and prospering.

A fellow imam said those worried about radicalization of American youth need to join with voices such as his to call out what is really going on with ISIS.

"Daesh is using media, they are using a global voice to further their propaganda. The only way to beat them is to use the same tactic; use the media and get the better version out," says Imam Faran Rabbani.

There is another talk Wednesday at 5:30 p.m. at the College of DuPage, and the imams say they will be holding more of these talks despite threats from people outside and inside the Muslim community. It's a big job, but one they say they're up for.
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