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Protests on streets against ISIS? How absurd!


Following the recent attacks on Gaza, Muslims rightly took to the streets with protests and campaigns. This led to accusations on social media from the far right and Zionists, as what could only be described as a diversionary tactic, that Muslims only complained about Gaza and suggested Muslims protest against ‘their own’, namely ISIS.   Muslims across the spectrum, bar a very small minority of ISIS supporters, have strongly condemned the actions of the group and have clearly stated that the actions of ISIS are anything but Islamic. I personally refuse to call them IS as they are not an Islamic State, and thus, it remains as ISIS.

With the recent beheading of foreign journalists, the threatened execution of the British humanitarian and taxi driver from Greater Manchester, Alan Henning, has brought about differing and wide appeals to ISIS from Muslim groups to save the dear man’s life. For the far right thugs, the neocons in the government, the Islamophobic media and even ‘liberal’ Muslims this is not deemed to be enough.  Their blinkered gripe is always that Muslims are not doing enough! And they now call for Muslims to be out on the streets protesting against ISIS, which is frankly absurd. I have spoken out against ISIS for their inhumane actions but apparently I now need to march in the street with a placard or I will be labelled a secret supporter or a hypocrite for not protesting against them. As an activist and peace campaigner, I am very clear about what I have previously and will prospectively take to the streets to protest against. Let me give some examples:-

1. Israeli attacks and their occupation

Israel has an embassy in London. When they kill women and children, I will show my disgust and anger, and protest outside their embassy. I have and will also protest outside 10 Downing Street because my Government is complicit in its silence and also arms Israel with the weapons to kill the mothers and children. Remove their embassy, our Government’s and the US Government’s support and I will no longer be protesting.

2. Iraq war

An illegal war which would massacre hundreds of thousands could be seen from miles away.  I was right to stand and be one of the many protesting in the UK, against Tony Blair taking our country to war.

3. Egypt

Their deposing of an elected Government by a military coup meant a protest at both the Egyptian embassy and at Downing Street because of their support of the coup was justifiable.

4. Saudi Arabia

For their misguided support of the Iraq war and support of the Egyptian coup and much, much more, once again makes protests justifiable outside their Embassy.

5. Education

Tuition fees and Cameron’s Eton buddies’ plans, which only widens the gap between the rich and poor with their education policies, makes protests justifiable in the streets of the UK.

In the case of ISIS, what use is marching in the street against a group which neither has an official office or embassy nor is it supported by my Government in any way? Rather, it is a group my Government are already tackling. Whom am I protesting to, other than merely fulfilling the clamour that Muslims should protest against ISIS? The only justifiable protest in the UK may be outside the US embassy, and that being for arming ISIS and helping this group grow in the first place. The same applies for protesting against Boko Haram, of whom I spoke out against, do not support and neither does my Government – again a non-protest.

I should not be made to protest against the criminal acts of Muslims just because they happen to use the term ‘Islamic’, or use Muslim names in any way, as though I am personally and directly responsible for keeping them on the straight and narrow. How many white Britons have been asked to protest on the streets and dissociate themselves from the likes of Jimmy Savile? Not a single one. Is it not the case that Catholics are not targeted because their ‘officials’, their priests, have sexually abused? Catholics should not be made to condemn and protest, it is not their responsibility, just as it is not mine or any other Muslim’s responsibility to protest.

I dismiss the notion that we Muslims are not doing enough; criminals should be treated like criminals when they are behaving as such.  Our religion, Islam, is one which even has guidelines for looking at a woman out of respect for her. Considering this, would I allow others to lay blame at the door of my religion when people knowingly ignore the religion and commit sexual abuse? This is unacceptable. The behaviour of criminals should in no way be linked back to my religion whether it be sexual abuse or ISIS, and it is time we Muslims stopped taking responsibility for the actions of criminals.

There is a feeling amongst some that by coming out strongly and publicly against ISIS, we will somehow help to counter Islamophobia. Tackling Islamophobia is not about appeasement and dancing to the Islamophobes tune. Today it is ISIS,  tomorrow it will be back onto one of the regular topics such as wearing of religious headgear or halal meat. Islamophobes will never be happy, and the sooner we Muslims accept this and start challenging their rhetoric directly, the better for us as a community.   Was the UK Jewish community even asked if they condemned in the slightest the actions of the Israeli Government in the recent Israeli attacks which killed 1,500 Palestinians? Was the UK Buddhist community called upon to comment when Buddhist monks led attacks and killed hundreds of Muslims in Burma over the past couple of years? One hate filled Burmese Buddhist monk even calls himself “the Burmese Bin Laden” but who has even heard of him in the news? In the Central African Republic (CAR) this January, Muslims were attacked and killed by Christian militias, where one of the murderers ate the flesh of a Muslim in an act of cannibalism. Was the UK Christian community asked to take responsibility and condemn these acts? No.

No other community has been made to feel responsible for the crimes committed by people of their faith other than Muslims.  Why is this only exclusively applied to Muslims?  This has now become so commonplace that radio and TV journalists regularly ask Muslims if they condemn such and such an act. Matt Frei of C4 News, at the end of a recent debate on ISIS, asked Asim Qureshi of Cage if he condemned ISIS, and was taken aback when Mr Qureshi replied “Did you ask me that because I’m Muslim?” It seems it is now natural to expect Muslims to dissociate themselves publicly from one criminal act after another simply because they profess to the same religion. Asim Qureshi’s reply was one we should all take heed of and push back with.

Please; before calling us hypocrites, pushing us out into the street with an anti-ISIS placard to satisfy the whims of people with their own agendas, think about why we should be out on the streets? And what we would achieve as a result? Where should this protest even take place? Should we just huddle in a random park and shout a few slogans to momentarily satisfy the Islamophobes? Muslims protesting against ISIS will take Islamophobia onto another unprecedented level – beyond the damage by the sermons on grooming.  We must not fail to recognise this and must snap out of the ‘guilt by association of religion’ we have fallen into. A protest in the UK against ISIS is absurd, counter-productive, irrational; it is frankly ridiculous. And yet, it seems only a matter of time before gullible or ‘funding seeking’ Muslims organise a protest, desperate to be seen doing the ‘the right thing’, for no other reason or benefit.  For our own sakes, let us not be a part of it; it is not our responsibility.

When once again the call comes “Muslims jump!”, we must rid the habit of replying “How high?” and should instead reply, “Why?”


About Salim Bhorat

Salim Bhorat runs a business and technology consultancy. He was part of the first Muslim group to join the Stop The War coalition—JUSTPEACE (Muslims for Justice and Peace)—when it formed in 2001 and continues to work on such causes.


  1. My observation globally and in south Africa, Majority of Muslims even those in leadership, will never take to the street and protest when Muslims are involved in inhumane acts. The glaring fact is, they are quick to organize and protest when non Muslims commit inhumane acts against Muslims. there is no justification from the writer, it is just escapism. One should protest AGAINST ALL INHUMANE ACTS. The truth is because ISLAM is attached and challenged through these inhumane acts Muslims will not publicly protest globally as they did for Gaza. I may be wrong in my observation and I am a free man I do not live in religious bondage,

    • You, sir, must be living on a different planet. Maybe you should take your ‘free man’ chains off and look into those things which your popular culture or social attitudes tell you not to, all the while telling you that you’re ‘free’.

  2. Quick response; never heard of the author pubically or privately in any Islamic or Dunya circle – no disrespect. Whilst I agree with the bulk of the text a few issues need a little more clarification. No one is to say we are exonerating the western governments for ill wars; but using this old ‘blame the devils’ script is tired and hashed in the public’s mind. You cant move forward as an ummah with a constant anchor to the unbelievers for our present failures. I disagree – we in the UK have not done enough. A handful of imams in the public eye have vested concern – the 99.9% have not openly suggested or given reason for the debate against Isis. Muslim youth still honour them privately as the ‘real jihadists-mujahideen’ and those in revolt are the soft muslims opposed to defending their brothers. How many Muslim youth has the author or imams of the UK spoken to? The problem here in the current climate is a fear of reprisals and a brutal Isis group or ideology to inaugurate in the UK. And frankly its started. Youve have muslim idiots like Anjem Choudhury and more clowns presenting a vile version of our religion – and few scholars or debates against him. When this is the case especially in media trends – it fashions minds instantly. I meet non-muslims and common folk everyday – they have questions and and the message in not unified as muslims we oppose Isis. Are we scared? I think senior Ulema, Darul Ulooms who have the most say in this country need to speak out – and then the majority of people will start to think different.
    But the indo/paks are in fear of getting on the media – they turn a blind eye and leave a lawyer bellow and quote verses with no Islamic education. I dont see an issue with a protest – as we have no unification in our masjids and in our scholars. Its only the lay people who can make a difference – then maybe the scholars could learn a few things too.

  3. Well written, balanced piece that reflects the sentiments of ‘everyday’ Muslims in the Uk @ world alike.
    It would help if the mainstream media too had such balanced reporting styles of issues pertaining to Muslims. Perchance this would help create cohesive trusting communities rather than the suspicious, ill informed & devisive ones that are on the rise!

  4. Seriously ISIS is not islamic you say?, have you even read the koran(quran)?, these [deleted] follow it almost to the letter(which shows your so called religion for the death cult it truly is)
    In the past 1400 years muslims have murdered over 270 MILLION people, not to mention raping, enslaving and pillaging their way across almost half the world commiting atrocities under the guidance of the false prophet and [deleted] Muhammad to spread their so called religion of peace, and you still want to play the victims?

  5. I agree with brother Salim. The MASSIVE protest that is really needed on the streets now is for those three children killed in Syria by the American led coalition bombs. Nothing but MURDER!

  6. What wrong with protest? if you believe ISIS is wrong and what their actions are inhumane than you should make it clear. the best way for these people to realise it is out in the open. i think its brilliant idea. speak freely like all the shaikhs are doing …writting letters and petitions and preaching etc. If this facist unislamic group uses media and preaching to gain their followers and prove their right. we can also do the same to prove people and our fellow muslim brother and sister out in the open…look this is clearly unacceptable . And the reason we are protesting is to show you how many people believe its wrong and why we believe its wrong. you do realise protest is not just a bunch of people marching on a street holding banners. they stand up for something. they speak about their rights. speak about what is wrong. it does make a difference if not all but some difference. we cant be ignorant and say well we know this is wrong but….we wont do anything about it? actions speak louder than words. we should actively say how disgusting and wrong ISIS and most importantly how unislamic it is. what islam is this?

    • My friend, this article is not about ‘protest’ meaning disagreeing with and speaking out against them, this article is about organising public protests against a group that doesn’t even have an embassy to gather outside of! Or any presence here.

      • That argument is obvious BS.

        There are large and very vocal protests against Israel in many countries that have no ties with Israel at all. Beyond that, there were large protests against certain cartoonists who drew Mohammed, even though these cartoonists had no business interests or presence anywhere in the middle east. The reasons for the lack of protest are the same classical tribal reasons as have always existed, when “your” people are killing “your” people most people don’t care. Hence, when a Jew kills a Muslim there is outrage.

        • If you’re going to write a reply to my comment, at least make it relevant to the comment and don’t imagine up a straw man argument to then refute. Now, THAT is BS…Not only that you’ve obviously failed to even READ my comment. Typical. In summary: not every possible meaning of the word ‘protest’ is mentioned in the article. To avoid future embarrassment try reading past the title of an article before you start criticising it.

    • I’m sure you don’t need me to tell you that relying on the media to bring balance is like waiting for a steam train in Leicester square. If you want the media to stand for the innocent Muslims, you have to become ambassadors for your religion and make a stand against the corrupt that use your religion as an excuse to terrorise or protest their anger.
      I support the UK opening its arms to equality to all cultures and religions, but I strongly oppose diluting and conceding our own culture and religion of which millions of people have chosen to live amongst. We are not a newly claimed island to be conquered. We have a proud history and heritage which should not be forgotten.
      The UK is one of the fairest and most hospitable nations on earth and I’m sick of the ever increasing population of abusers residing here and complaining.

  7. Shelly Belaribi

    Well written brother mashAllah. It is balanced attitudes that will help humanity.

  8. An astute and timely essay. The suggestion that ordinary Muslims should be expected to perform in the streets like dancing monkeys purely to demonstrate that their moral compasses are pointing in the right direction is absurd and demeaning. ISIS has been thoroughly condemned by leading Muslim scholars, a fact which has been widely reported in the media, and this message seems to have struck home very effectively with Muslims and non-Muslims alike. We don’t need a cabaret.

    • Your wrong. Let’s us not forgot that when Gaza gets invaded millions stand hand-in- hand and parade against the genocide – do they dance for fun without getting noticed? When Anjem Choudhury carries the message of anti-establishment and relishes blood spilling like milk – he gets noticed by millions – and helps create Edl/Britain First. Isis is leading an open invitation to declaring jihad – which is supported in both Quran and chapters in all the hadith collections. So how do the average Joe and Jill understand its not an obligation on us? Just because 5 scholars who are from the same manhaj – not the broader Islamic schools of thought – come on youtube? Did the imams of Makkah, Riyadh, Jeddah, Madinah, Indonesia, Pakistan, Europe – openly address the 3 billion brotherhood? There’s been subliminal hints on extremism for years but since the Syrian conflict and war – jihad has been openly encouraged.

      So how do we counter anything beyond the normal understanding of our imams and religious circle? You fail to point – the why in the last paragraph is open to debate – the average Muslim gives little or less than two hoots on anything past his neighbourhood. They get together for monetary pleasures and celebrations . If working tax credit was stopped tomorrow muslims would be the first to protest. I could write 50 pages more and rattle on…time for Dhuhr. In a nutshell – do anything to oppose any person or group who is destroying our name of Islam – peacefully.

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