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#MakingAStand: British Muslim women launch anti-ISIS culture drive

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In the latest fight against ISIS, a British Muslim women’s group is on Wednesday launching a new nationwide campaign called “#MakingAstand.” It is a community and social media based campaign that is asking women to make a stand alongside Muslim women from across the UK to reject the culture that ISIS is propagating and declare an abhorrence to extremism and terrorism.

Troubled by the recent reports of rising figures of British Muslims leaving the UK to join ISIS, in particular the increasing number of young British Muslim women, the campaign has been described by Sara Khan, co-Director of Inspire and responsible for the launch, as a “call to action and a statement for Muslim women in rejecting the barbarity of [ISIS].”

Whilst it’s still unclear how many British Muslim women, amongst the estimated 500 Britons fighting in Syria and Iraq, are involved with ISIS, it is believed, that this total has risen with the increase in land and territory gains made by ISIS, the Guardian reported.

The fresh campaign represents a rejection of ISIS by British Muslims who are travelling from across the country to take part in the launch. Speaking to Al Arabiya News, Sara explains that ISIS present “a deliberate and distorted reading of Islam’s scriptures.” Instead, Inspire aims to make a stand to promote narratives that challenge hatred and extremism espoused by ISIS by creating local networks of support that also partner with statutory agencies that help to exert influence in mosques and communities and help families identify the signs of radicalization.

Inspire is a counter-extremism and human rights organization which seeks to address inequalities facing British Muslim women. Their focus on women remains key to their work in preventing radicalization amongst the British Muslim community. According to Kalsoom Bashir, who is project director at Inspire, women “are in a unique position to identify early factors that leads to radicalization.”

This is not the first time that Muslim women have been viewed as an important first line of defense against radicalization within the Muslim community. In June this year, the British government introduced a strategy urging mothers and wives to report their loved ones, following the uncovering of Britons participating in Jihadist style fighting in Syria earlier this year. One critic of this policy explained in Huffington Post it was problematic because “relying on Muslim women to undertake the work of the security services is not only likely to be ineffective, it also risks further undermining women in highly patriarchal settings as possible ‘agents’, not to be trusted.”

The launch of #MakingAStand is the latest in a long string of statements and initiatives by British Muslims, speaking out against extremism both at home and abroad, especially In response to ISIS’s kidnapping of Alan Henning, a British aid worker who was based in Syria. Over 100 British Muslim leaders made a joint appeal, urging ISIS to show mercy in sparing his life. Signed by dozens of imams, community leaders and other prominent Muslims, the letter expresses their “revulsion” at the execution of the previous three hostages.

Denunciations of ISIS by British Muslims have taken a number of forms. A recent hashtag campaign - #NotInMyName – has been trending on Twitter, and aims to counter the influence of groups such as ISIS online by condemning such violence.

Women looking to take part in #MakingAStand are being encouraged to do so by tweeting a picture of themselves to #MakingAStand. They can also register their interest at www.wewillinspire.com.
 


Nabila Hathan - Al Arabyia, 25/09/2014

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