In a TV interview, Iraqi political commentator Ali Al-Shamari defended ISIS, saying that the Iraqi regime was "annihilating the Sunnis" and that the people welcomed ISIS "because it lifted all this injustice." When asked by the Turkish Channel 9 interviewer about the atrocities committed by ISIS, he retorted: "If you want to talk, talk about something you understand. What you are saying constitutes slander." Calling the Yazidis "Satan worshippers," he justified their treatment at the hands of ISIS, saying: "the early Muslims did the same" and "this is our religion." The interview aired on June 1.
Ali Al-Shamari: "It is mandatory to instate the shari'a. The [Arab] countries that rule according to a secular system are illegitimate. This is the perspective of Islamic law."
"The situation in Iraq is different from any other place. We are facing the annihilation of the Sunnis."
Interviewer: "What you are saying is that the Iraqi army and the Popular Mobilization Units want to kill the Sunnis..."
Al-Shamari: "They are annihilating us."
Interviewer: "They want to exterminate the Sunnis?"
Interviewer: "So what is [your] alternative?"
Al-Shamari: "We have no alternative, except... As I've said on several occasions, we have no alternative other than the people who are fighting [the Iraqi regime]. What else is left for us to do?!"
Interviewer: "So the Islamic State organization is the alternative?"
Al-Shamari: "There is no other alternative. Who else is fighting on our side? We are being annihilated, and then you ask why we support [ISIS]?!" We are being killed! Can you blame me for wanting to defend myself and my family? Look what is happening to us. It is happening on the ground. I've said this more than once. They ask us: 'Why don't you fight the Islamic State?' Fight the Islamic State?! That would be like taking a gun and shooting ourselves. I don't have any choice. You've left me with no alternative. They want to kill me. They threaten me and do many [evil] things, and then you tell me to fight [ISIS]?! [The regime] has come to kill me!"
Interviewer: "And what about ISIS?"
Al-Shamari: "ISIS is fighting them."
"We used to live in enclaves. There was more concrete in these roadblocks than in the separation wall built between Israel and the Palestinians. Did you know that this was the case in every Sunni neighborhood in Iraq? When the Islamic State organization came in, they brought heavy machinery and within one hour, they had removed it all. I used to live in the center of Baghdad. At 10 PM, 11 PM, or midnight, there was a curfew. When [ISIS] came in, they cancelled it. I would be sleeping in my home, and at any moment, the government forces would raid the area, take the young men, and you had to bribe your way out of prison. [ISIS] put an end to all this. So what do you expect from people? I direct this question to everybody."
Interviewer: "So the people welcomed ISIS?"
Al-Shamari: "Yes, because it lifted all this injustice."
Interviewer: "So ISIS shows up and says: 'You people are oppressed, you are being killed. Let us defend you.' But at what expense? At the expense of other people's land, at the expense of the Yazidis, who have been slaughtered..."
Al-Shamari: "Are you defending Satan worshippers?"
Interviewer: "God forbid. What Satan worshippers am I defending? I am defending freedom and people's right to be free."
Al-Shamari: "So why are you defending Satan worshippers?"
Interviewer: "What Satan worshippers do you think I am defending?"
Al-Shamari: "The Yazidis."
Interviewer: "The Yazidis may worship whatever they want. What is it to you?"
Al-Shamari: Let them worship. I am not saying it is my business. But you say that [ISIS] came and took the land of the Yazidis. What do you care?"
Interviewer: "You are justifying the killing of the Yazidis. Fine. Forget the Yazidis. Let ISIS kill them. What about others?"
Al-Shamari: "Look, I didn't say that ISIS should kill them."
Interviewer: "Yes, you did."
Al-Shamari: "Don't put words into my mouth..."
Interviewer: "The answer is 'yes.' I am defending the Yazidis. I am defending their right to be free, without ISIS forcing them to choose between death and Islam. This is forbidden. Allah says: 'There is no compulsion in the religion.' Allah also says: "Whoever wills, let him believe, and whoever wills, let him disbelieve.' ISIS, however, says: 'If you want to believe, you must pay me as much as I want and fight in my army. But if you don't want to believe, I will kill you, burn you, hang you, bomb you, drown you in water, or gas you.' Haven't we seen what ISIS is doing?"
Al-Shamari: "If you want to talk, talk about something you understand. What you are saying constitutes slander. The Yazidis, like others, were offered the option to surrender and pay jizyah, or to leave the land. Didn't the early Muslims do the same thing? Our religion tells us to do this. It is not some random invention."
Interviewer: "Who is ISIS to say this?"
Al-Shamari: "Who else should say this? Was ISIS sent by Omar Ibn Al-Khattab, Abu Bakr, or Othman bin Affan?"
Interviewer: "No. They were sent by Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi, an unknown figure – a man who appeared only once in a mosque, wearing an Omega or Rolex watch."
Al-Shamari: "What you are saying is not true. Don't talk about things you don't understand. You say that a certain person is unknown, but he is unknown maybe to you. You say that [ISIS] gave [the Yazidis] a choice between Islam and death. Well, the early Muslims did the same. That's our religion. When the Muslims conquered countries inhabited by infidels – pagans and others – didn't they give them a choice to convert to Islam, to pay jizyah, or to leave?"
Interviewer: "The PMU considers ISIS to be heretic."
Al-Shamari: "No! It considers all Sunnis to be heretic. They call us nawasib..."
Interviewer: "Okay, but you call them Rafidites."
Interviewer: "So everybody calls everybody names."
Al-Shamari: "True. But according to Jaafari jurisprudence, the nawasib are heretics, so their killing is sanctioned and their property is up for grabs."
Interviewer: "So this is what the PMU is doing?"
Al-Shamari: "Yes, and some in the military forces."
Interviewer: "So the entire army should be fought like an infidel enemy?"
Al-Shamari: "Of course."