Muslim organisations across Europe have begun calling out their followers in protest against the rise of Islamic State (ISIL) in Syria and Iraq amid an increase in hate crimes on their communities.
Attacks on Muslims living in Europe peaked a year or two after 9/11. But the worldwide media coverage about the sudden dominance of Islamic State in Iraq has seen the number of attacks rebound, say community leaders.
In Germany, the Central Council of Muslims will hold demonstrations in as many as 2,000 cities and towns this Friday demanding an end to the misrepresentation of Islam.
The organisation’s chair Aiman Mazyek told Germany's international broadcaster DW that Islam is a religion of peace.
“We want to make clear that terrorists do not speak in the name of Islam,” he said.
The move follows similar protests in Norway last month which saw thousands of people take to the streets of the capital Oslo.
28-year-old student Thee Yezen Obaide led the protests, telling the website newsinenglish.no that: “IS does not represent Islam”.
There are 4.2 million Muslims in Germany and more than 100,000 in Norway compared to what community leaders say is just a few hundred extremists in each country.
The increased hatred towards Muslims across Europe is compounded by the beheadings of Western journalists and aid workers in recent days.
British Muslims, in particular, say they fear a backlash following the murder of David Haines.
The 44-year-old father of two was kidnapped in Syria in March 2013 was beheaded by another British name, nicknamed Jihadi John.
The Guardian reports that the more gruesome the media reports from Iraq and Syria were, the more Muslims risked reprisal attacks.
Threats are often made online, using social media platforms and several British mosques have been targeted.
“Everyone I’ve spoken to regards those people as complete lunatics. We don’t know who they are, they’ve come from nowhere, and all of a sudden they’re claiming to represent the whole of the Muslim community,” London-based worshipper Amir Younis told The Guardian.
"Muslim community needs to do more to battle extremism"
The number of British-based extremists operating in Iraq & Syria only serves to increase fears among the wider community.
It prompted UK Muslim leaders to issue a fatwah against British jihadists. The edict or ruling which cannot be revoked, was endorsed by six Islamic scholars.
It states that Muslims should help those in war-torn Syria and Iraq but without ‘betraying their own societies’.
In Norway, Abid Raja, a Liberal Party MP admitted that the Muslim community needed to do more.
“(Fear and hatred happens) because of (the local extremist group) Profetens Ummah and because people who don’t dare stand up to them and IS,” he told Dagsavisen.
In Britain, while Muslim leaders often distance the wider community from jihadists during media interviews, groups have yet to organise anti-extremist marches.
But Islamic organisations have urged British Prime Minister to “refuse to legitimise’ the terrorist network by calling it Islamic State. It is neither, they say.
“The group has no standing with faithful Muslims, nor among the international community of nations. It clearly will never accept the obligations that any legitimate state has, including the responsibility to protect citizens and uphold human rights,” they said in a letter to Cameron.
Others wonder whether comedy can help take the sting out of the tail around the fear and hatred surrounding their community.
Countercurrentnews.com reports how Social Media fans are uploading parody videos of Islamic State to YouTube.
They hope to use the same channels that the extremists uses to spread their propaganda.
Dozens of comic strips and witty tweets have also appeared on Twitter in recent months against ISIL and what it stands for.
What ISIS is really doing - another poignant political cartoon #ISIS#Syria#iraq#us#islampic.twitter.com/PiyezrLTyH— Ayman Mohyeldin (@AymanM) 17 Septembre 2014
A cartoon from British satirical and anti-corruption magazine 'Private Eye' commenting on #ISIS' "traditional values" pic.twitter.com/E3lsK7uV8z— αηιs (@SkepticBosnjak) 1 Septembre 2014
New cartoon: The #ISIS ransom note pic.twitter.com/RDyfA3RRwe— Andy Marlette (@AndyMarlette) 3 Septembre 2014
The (Un)Islamic State summed up into one great cartoon. #ISIS#ISIL#Islam#ISpic.twitter.com/9Mae9TYlNu— American مسلم ☪ (@Muslims_USA) 16 Septembre 2014