In a classroom of the University of Mosul, in the IS group’s former Iraqi capital, around 50 volunteers have undergone a week’s training on how to combat the extremists’ ideology. The Islamic scholars, aim to set up ‘brigades’ tasked with ridding Mosul residents of extremist ideas following the city’s recapture last July which ended three years of IS rule. “Mosul must be liberated from the thinking of Daesh after having been liberated militarily,” said Mussaab Mahmud, who just completed the course, using an Arabic acronym for IS.
“We were deceived by Daesh ideas and now we are trying to free ourselves from its ideology,” said the 30-year-old day labourer.
The first group of volunteers came from all sectors of Mosul society, including mechanics, teachers and a shaikh.
The men, aged 25 to 45 years, signed up on Facebook for the course run by the Ulema Forum of Mosul, Iraq’s second largest city which was left shattered by the months-long battle to expel IS.
The classes are being conducted by five teachers who are experts in Islamic jurisprudence from Mosul and Tikrit, a city to the south that was also previously under brutal IS rule.
“The lessons are concentrated on human rights, human development, peaceful coexistence and communal peace,” the forum’s president Shaikh Saleh al Obeidi said.
He said participants were tutored on “faith, Islamic jurisprudence and the Hadith (record of the sayings of the Prophet Mohammad) to allow them to counter the ideas of Daesh and its intellectual terrorism”.
IS imposed its own rigid interpretation of Islamic law on all aspects of everyday life, branding opponents “apostates” who should be killed.
Shaikh Obeidi said the brigades will go out and “combat the extremist ideas on social media and by calling on residents in their homes”.
He said the classes would expand to cover “all social groups and both sexes”, although it was still looking for permanent premises in the war-battered city.
Priority will be the children indoctrinated in IS-run schools.
“As a teacher myself, what I’ve learnt here will allow me as far as possible to erase the radical Daesh ideas instilled in pupils, because they were the worst affected and influenced,” said Ibrahim Mohammad Hamid, 27.
Mohammad Abaiji, a 24-year-old imam, or prayer leader, said he would run seminars in the mosque for children “to spread enlightened ideas, because Islam is a religion of tolerance”. — AFP