Kerala Muslim leaders step up campaign to stop state youths from joining Islamic State

Muslim leaders in Kerala were in a state of shock ever since security agencies confirmed that 21 youths, who were reported missing from Palakkad and Kasargod districts in June last year, had crossed over to Afghanistan to join the Islamic State (IS).

 Kerala Muslim leaders step up campaign to stop state youths from joining Islamic State

Representational image. AP

Many have spurred into action after the youths started luring young men back home from the IS territory in Khorasan. The Malappuram-based Ma'din Academy, one of the leading centres of Islamic spiritual and scientific learning in the state, is trying to counter this radicalisation move by undertaking a mass campaign.

Ma’din, which runs a chain of 30 educational institutions and charity organisations in the state, has planned to take the message of peace to one million homes in the state’s northern districts of Malappuram, Palakkad, Kozhikode, Kannur and Kasargod in the next few months.

Karnataka minister UT Khader, who hails from Kasargod, will launch the campaign named ‘1 Million Peace Homes’ at the Vicennium celebration of Ma’din Academy at Malappuram on 21 June. Over 2,000 peace volunteers trained to run the campaign will visit houses and spread the message of harmony and togetherness, Ummer Melmury, director of International Interfaith Harmony Initiative of the academy, said.

Khader told Firstpost that the volunteers will conduct special learning sessions on the harmony message of Islam and inform families about the atrocities being committed by terror organisations like IS. They will also install the academy’s peace logo at the entrance of the house.

"The campaign will have a special focus on families of migrants since their children are more vulnerable to radicalisation. The IS recruiters are targeting the children of the migrants working in Gulf countries since they are not under the direct control of their fathers," said Ummer.

The people who gather for the event, that marks the 26th night of the holy month of Ramadan, will also be asked to take a mass pledge against terrorism, intolerance and hatred spread by IS and its affiliated outfits. Ummer said they were expecting four lakhs people to attend the event.

Though Muslim youth in the state started associating with radical outfits ever since the demolition of the Babri Masjid, leaders of the community never expected them to join a dreaded organisation like the IS. To their utter dismay, they have found that some of the youths who joined the IS were also trying to recruit young men from the state.

Abdul Rasheed Abdulla, who was among the 21 youths who crossed the border, is said to have risen as the chief IS recruiter for India. He embraced radical ideology after he joined the Peace International School at Kozhikode after completing his engineering degree.

Hailing from Thrikkarippur in Kasargod, he first radicalised a Christian woman named Sonia from Ernakulam. He got her converted into Islam and married her. He took Sonia, who changed her name to Ayisha after conversion, to Afghanistan along with their little daughter.

Police said that the other members in the 21-member group were also recruited by Abdulla. The group, which included four women and three children, are believed to be at Khorasan in Afghanistan now. Four of these men have died in the last four months during operations, according to reports.

The latest victim is Shajeer Mangalaserry (32). According to a message received by an activist at Padanna in Kasargod from Afshfaq Majeed, one of the 21 youths who joined the IS, from Afghanistan on Monday, Shajeer was killed in an attack in last week.

Along with Abdullah Shajeer was also involved in radicalising young men. They have been luring the youths from the state through secure messaging apps. The messages of Abdulla cracked recently by India Today from the Telegram messaging app revealed that he lured youths by offering house, meat, chocolate and even women.

It is not known how many the duo has so far weaned into IS. The India Today report said that 75 people from across the country were arrested by police for suspected links till March this year. They included 16 from Telengana, nine from Karnataka, eight from Maharashtra, six from Madhya Pradesh and four from Tamil Nadu.

After enticing, Abdulla indoctrinated his target with his own interpretation of sacred Islamic texts and Sharia, which he called purely Islamic. His messages obtained by the India also justified violence saying it was part of jihad, the report said.

“It's a sunnah to do jihad. Islamic State also does jihad-against the mushrikeen, kuffaar, murtadeen and the munafiqeen. Let Allah show the correct path to all and may we all meet in heaven!" he said.

“Abdulla is wrong. This is not un-Islamic, rather anti-Islamic. Islam is a religion that embodies the values of love, tolerance, and respect to all. It never allows infringement of the rights of others," says Sayyid Ibrahim Khaleel Al Bukhari, chairman of Ma’din Academy.

Bukhari told Firstpost that no devout Muslim can approve the IS atrocities and their other actions of persecuting minorities and trapping women and children. They have been doing it in the name of Islam. Nobody has given any mandate to IS to act as the authority of the Muslim community. They have grabbed it for their own silly political gains, he added.

“Muslims have a rich tradition of peaceful coexistence in states like Kerala. We will not allow anybody to destroy this. We will work with other communities for the betterment of the society,” he said.

Writer and activist MN Karaserry believes that the increasing radicalisation of the youth in the state was the result of the migration, which has brought them under diverse influences. The petrodollar they have earned has led to commercialisation of religion and politics in Kerala.

The youth, he said, have been following destructive ideologies as they have nothing constructive to do. Last year, over a dozen Keralites were deported from the United Arab Emirates for sharing Islamic propaganda in the social media.

Karaserry, former head of the Malayalam department at Calicut University, said that the major problem faced by youth in the state nowadays is that they have no models to emulate.

Updated Date: Jun 20, 2017 19:52:14 IST