Wall Street Journal in an editorial on September 10, 2015, commented on the issue of a fatwa in South Asia against the caliphate. Islamic State suffered a setback far from the battlefields of Iraq and Syria last week, as more than 1,000 Muslim leaders in India issued a fatwa condemning the terror group as “un-Islamic and inhuman.” This welcome salvo against jihadism is also a reminder of the threat of radicalization in populous South Asia. Excerpts below:

Organizers say the edict’s signatories include clerics, scholars and other authorities from hundreds of mosques, schools and civic organizations across India, with endorsements now being sought from leaders in 50 other countries.

“It’s a strong message that we, as a large and influential community of Muslims, reject this kind of torture, killings, violence,” one Mumbai-based organizer told the Journal.

India is home to more than 170 million Muslims, giving it the second-largest Muslim population in the world, behind Indonesia.

As Islamic State marched through Iraq last year, it published recruiting materials in Hindi, Urdu, Tamil and other languages spoken in India. When at least four Indians went to Iraq as fighters, officials in New Delhi sounded alarms.

India’s Home Ministry says fewer than 20 Indians have joined Islamic State, some from overseas, while only 30 have been arrested trying to get abroad. One of the four who went to Iraq last year, a 23-year-old engineering student, returned in November, apparently injured and embittered. According to official leaks, he told interrogators that he had mostly cleaned toilets and served other fighters who were impious, raped women and refused treatment after a bullet wound to his neck.

Defeating Islamist terrorism requires organizing against it, especially by promoting anti-jihadist authorities in the Muslim world. Sheik Ahmed al-Tayeb, grand imam of Cairo’s Al-Azhar University, Sunni Islam’s premier educational institution, has condemned the “corrupt interpretations” of scripture used by Islamic State and other “extremist violent groups.” The more this case is made in mosques and madrassas in India and beyond, the better.
As important is defeating Islamic State militarily in Iraq and Syria.

Comment: India is of great strategic importance. During the past year it has moved closer to the West and is introducing a more market oriented economy. With 170 million Muslims, most of them of a moderate persuasion, stopping recruitment for Islamic terrorism in the Middle East is crucial. India is also threatened by Islamist terrorist attacks from Pakistan.

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