When 5,000 Indians signed up to lay down their lives in Iraq
With the Sunni rebels from the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria now in full control of the nation’s major oil refinery that supplies a third of Iraq’s refined fuel, a skirmish has led to a bloody war in which many innocents are dying.
Fearing for their fellow community members and the Indians that are trapped in the violence-affected region, the All India Shia Hussaini Fund, based in Lucknow, has requested fellow Shia members to sign up and go to Iraq to secure their release.
Syed Hasan Mehdi, the secretary of the organisation, tells Rediff.com Vicky Nanjappa how the ISIS is a blemish on Islam and will soon be targeting Kashmir. He also informs that 5,000 Shias and 162 Hindus have signed up for the rescue mission and are ready to lay down their lives.
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Image: Indians chant protests against the violence and brutality by the ISIS militants in Iraq.
Photographs: Adnan Abidi/Reuters
'We don't believe in violence; only want to secure the release of our brothers'
There was a report that you were paying those who have agreed to the mission Rs 40-60 lakh. Is this true?
This is completely false. We are not hiding anything. We sent out forms to people asking them to volunteer to fight in Iraq. There is no question of giving them any money and neither are we taking any, as the report claimed.
How has the response been? How many have signed up and ready to go?
The response has been overwhelming. Around 5,000 Shia Muslims and 162 Hindus have agreed and are ready to go to Iraq.
What training are you providing those who are will be going to Iraq? Do you think they will be capable of standing up to the militants, who are such a powerful force that even the Iraq army is unable to face them?
When we say fight, we don’t mean an armed battle. We do not believe in violence and our mission to Iraq is only to secure the release of our trapped brothers. We will deploy all peaceful measures to ensure their safe return. We want to help the Indian government in their efforts. We haven’t once said we will raise arms.
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Image: Volunteers sign up to be a part of the Iraqi military force
Photographs: Ahmad Mousa/Reuters
'It is a holy war to secure the release of those trapped'
It’s said that it is a Shahadat form, which means sacrifice. What do you mean by sacrifice?
It is a Shahadat form. This means that you place the safety of the trapped Indians ahead of your own. Our youth are ready to even die for the cause. We know that those who we will have to deal with there are not the best; they might even try to kill us. But, we are ready to lay down our lives.
It sounds very touching. Has the Indian government approved of the same?
We have just sent all the forms to the prime minister and the home minister, as we want their approval. We are hopeful that the Indian government will support our cause, as we don’t want to create any trouble. We only want to help out.
What if the Indian government does not allow this?
We will request them once again. The Indian government has always dealt with all matters in a peaceful manner and we too subscribe to the same view. We do not consider this to be a war. It is a holy war to secure the release of our brothers trapped at the hands of the brutal ISIS.
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Image: Volunteers have vowed that they will not allow the ISIS militants to enter Baghdad.
Photographs: Thaier Al-Sudani/Reuters
'The members of ISIS are animals who will target India'
The ISIS is clearly targeting the Shia Muslims. What are your thoughts on their brutality against the community?
Members of the ISIS are animals that will one day target India on the pretext that they want to liberate Kashmir. They are clearly being trained in Pakistan and funded by the Saudis. The ISIS has India, Iran, and Lebanon on their radar. They are a bunch of dacoits who will try to target Kashmir and implement their law there. These are a set of radicals and I don’t just call them Sunnis, but Wahabi Sunnis.
Can you tell us why this war cannot be called as jihad?
The religion of Islam is about peace, brotherhood, love and sacrifice. However, some people, who do not know the meaning of Islam has tarnished the name. They carry out terrorist activities in the name of Islam. There is no place for terrorism in Islam. The chiefs of terrorist outfits such as Al Qaeda, the Taliban and the others have brainwashed others using the name of Islam.
What did Islam gain from the attacks on the World Trade Centre in the United States, Parliament in India, the Tube attacks in London? Following these attacks, everyone interpreted Islam to be a violent religion. Neither does Islam nor the holy Quran consider these acts of cowardice as jihad. Muslims from all classes from all across the world should oppose such ‘jihad’ which is blemishing the name of Islam through terrorism.
Image: The ISIS militants have taken over major cities in Iraq leaving a trail of destruction in their wake.
Photographs: Yahya Ahmad/Reuters