In India's Tamil Nadu and Jammu & Kashmir States, Muslim Youth Express Public Support For Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi-Led Jihadist Group ISIS

August 3, 2014

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Youth sporting 'ISIS' T-shirts pose near a mosque in Ramanathapuram in Tamil Nadu state

Following are excerpts from Indian media reports about public demonstrations in support of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) led by Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi in two Indian states: the southern Tamil Nadu, from where several youths recently departed to fight in Syria, and Jammu & Kashmir (J&K), where masked youth expressed public support for ISIS:

"Confirming That The Picture Was Taken In Front Of The 'Periya Pallivasal' (Big Mosque) In Ramanathapuram District, A Highly-Placed Police Officer ... [Said] It Was Posted On Facebook From An Overseas Location"

"A group photograph of two dozen Muslim youth, sporting black T-shirts with 'ISIS' emblazoned on it and posing in front of a mosque, has gone viral on social media, prompting the intelligence wing of the [Tamil Nadu] State police to step up surveillance in Ramanathapuram district, despite initial reports clearing the group of any suspicious behavior.

"Confirming that the picture was taken in front of the 'Periya Pallivasal' (Big Mosque) in Ramanathapuram district, a highly-placed police officer told Express that it was posted on Facebook from an overseas location.

"Since the news of a man from Parangipettai [a town in Tamil Nadu] joining the Sunni militants-led Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) in Syria is still fresh in the minds of people, the photograph evoked strong reactions. 'I saw the post on Facebook two days ago and there were hundreds of likes and comments with many people sharing the pictures. It was posted by one Sangai Ridwan hailing ISIS in Tamil. He even compared the terrorists with freedom fighters like [revolutionary leader of Indian freedom movement] Subhash Chandra Bose. I was shocked at the support of Indian youth to a terror organization,' said a Facebook user.

"'Who is supposed to take note and act on young Muslim men flaunting ISIS T-shirts and posing 4 pics-as usual people responsible behaving like ostriches?' noted columnist S Gurumurthy said, reacting to the post in the social media." [1]

"[In Kashmiri Capital Srinagar] Masked Kashmiri Youngsters Were Seen Carrying ISIS Flags On At Least Two Occasions: First Outside The Jamia Masjid On July 11 And Then On July 29, The Day Of Eid"

"The unexpected appearance of Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, or ISIS flags during recent anti-Israel protests in Srinagar [the capital of Jammu & Kashmir state] has left government authorities, Sunni-Barelvi scholars and even Kashmiri separatists searching for answers. Masked Kashmiri youngsters were seen carrying ISIS flags on at least two occasions: first outside the Jamia Masjid on July 11 and then on July 29, the day of Eid. The J&K police have so far been unable to round up the masked men who held up the outfit's flags during the recent protests.

"Separatist leaders, expressing displeasure, said, 'We're unable to control the youth who are drifting towards the Deobandi school of thought, which is more or less aligned to the Wahhabis,' said a senior separatist leader. 'This is a disturbing trend in the Kashmir valley, which is of predominately Barelvi thought [which is opposed to the Deobandi school that supports the Taliban in Pakistan]. The trend may disturb the social fabric and trigger sectarian clashes in the future.'

"The Valley's Shia population, too, expressed unease. 'We fear this may put our lives at risk since the ISIS leader is targeting the Shias, besides Islamic shrines and monuments,' said Mirza Hussian, a resident of the old city in Srinagar.  In Mumbai, experts said Barelvi is not a sect. Barelvis are followers of Aala Hazrat Maulana Ahmed Raza Khan (1856-1921), a Sunni scholar from Bareilly in UP [Uttar Pradesh, a northern state] who fought against Wahhabism. These scholars like to be called Sunni-Barelvis.

"'We oppose the Israeli attacks on Gaza, but are shocked at the appearance of ISIS flags in Kashmir during the protest on Eid,' said Maulana Tauqeer Raza, a leading Sunni-Barelvi scholar and chief of Ittihad-e-Millat Tanzeem. 'The ISIS jihadis are terrorists and can't be called Sunnis. They're defaming Islam and acting at the behest of the enemies of Islam. They've demolished shrines of prophets as they're opposed to visiting shrines of Sufis. Some Kashmiri youths might have got influenced by their ideology...'

Saeed Noorie, secretary of the Mumbai-based Raza Academy, a socio-religious institution established to propagate Barelvi thought, said, "ISIS has nothing to do with Islam. It's ideologically close to Wahhabis and harming the cause of Muslims. They call themselves Sunnis but act against the values taught by Sunni Islam. Its leader Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi is a self-declared caliph. But he's deceiving people and is a fake caliph because he lacks the qualities of a caliph.'[2]


[1] (India), August 2, 2014. The original English of both the reports has been lightly edited for clarity and standardization.

[2] (India), August 2, 2014.


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