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Opinion: Columnists

Many Muslim leaders have denounced the Islamic State

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Opinion,David Freddoso,Columnists,Iraq,Religion,Islam,ISIS

On Sunday, Pope Francis expressed “dismay and disbelief” over the Islamic State militia's atrocities and genocide in Syria and Iraq.

“All this gravely offends God and humanity,” Francis said. “Hatred is not to be carried in the name of God. War is not to be waged in the name of God.”

One would expect a Pope to say this – especially a Pope with a humanitarian streak like Francis', and especially in the face of a persecution of his own flock. But the Vatican's follow-up was perhaps more surprising. It comprised an official statement demanding all Muslim leaders of good will to denounce Islamic State, or risk having doors closed to them in their faces.

“Otherwise,” the statement reads, “what credibility will religions, their followers and their leaders, have? What credibility could the inter-religious dialogue patiently pursued in recent years have?”

Indeed – if even Osama bin Laden and his lieutenants were appalled by Islamic State, what use would there be for dialogue with religious leaders who cannot forcefully condemn the group and encourage Muslims to work against it?

Perhaps the Vatican had specific silent Muslim leaders in mind when it released the statement. But fortunately, many high-profile Islamic leaders have categorically denounced Islamic State, even if many in the West are unaware. And with Islamic State slaughtering not only Christians and Yazidis, but also their fellow Muslims, there's a good chance that many Muslims will listen.

At the Patheos blog on religion this week, Greg Kandra (a Catholic deacon) highlighted some of the recent Islamic denunciations of Islamic State. The worldwide Organization for Islamic Cooperation, the Islamic Society of North America, several British Muslim leaders (whose video is especially worth watching), and even the U.S. Council on American-Islamic Relations are among those who had denounced Islamic State before the Pope even spoke up.

The British imams' video is especially worth watching for its categorical denunciations of Islamic State and the exhortations from Muslim leaders not to heed Islamic State's aggressive recruiting drive. For example: “Brothers and sisters, if I could tell you in one sentence about [Islamic State], I would tell you that they are evil, they are corrupt, they are self-seeking, self-centered, vicious people. Don't get mixed up with them. You don't know who are behind them.”

Kandra also noted that the Middle East Media Research Institute, which spends much of its time translating outrageous Islamist propaganda into English in order to discredit groups like Hamas, has recently translated some important anti-Islamic State editorials and op-eds by Muslim journalists and editors.

The editors of London's al Quds al Arabi called Islamic State “criminals who have lost any vestige of their humanity” and warned that anyone who tried to downplay their danger “will actually be an accessory to the crimes against humanity.”

Ahmad Al-Sarraf of the Kuwaiti al Qabas newspaper wrote in the style of a dark parody, warning to Christians to flee Muslim lands: “O Christians, leave us along with your culture, for we have already replaced it with the culture of digging graves.”

So yes, if anyone asks, there are actually quite a few Muslims denouncing Islamic State, and it's a good start. In a week with grim news coming from nearly every corner of the earth, it's a rare reminder that not everyone in the world is a bad guy.

DAVID FREDDOSO, a Washington Examiner columnist, is the former Editorial Page Editor for the Examiner and the New York Times-bestselling author of "Spin Masters: How the Media Ignored the Real News and Helped Re-elect Barack Obama." He has also written two other books, "The Case Against Barack Obama" (2008) and "Gangster Government" (2011).
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