Iraqis show little tolerance for ISIS ideology

By Hassan al-Obeidi in Baghdad


Iraqis shop at a supermarket in Fallujah on December 29th, 2016, about six months after ISIS was ousted from the city. Iraqi officials tell Diyaruna residents are keen to ensure no trace of the group's toxic ideology remains. [Sabah Arar/AFP]

In the aftermath of the "Islamic State of Iraq and Syria" (ISIS) era, security officials in several provinces have made it clear they will not put up with people who seek to disrupt society by imposing their extremist ideology on others.

This is illustrated by a recent incident in Ramadi, in which Iraqi police officers arrested a man in response to a complaint from the owners of a women's fashion shop.

The shop owners had reported the man for harassment, saying he had been proclaiming that the use of mannequins to showcase clothes in display windows was haram (forbidden by Islam), and demanding that they be removed.

Ramadi residents are fed up with dealing with this type of behaviour, police Capt. Asaad al-Fahdawi told Diyaruna.

They view the ideology that ISIS sought to instill in the minds of residents of their city during the years it exercised control as being no less dangerous than the mines it planted in their streets after its defeat in 2016, he said.

"Such ideas and postulates framed by ISIS, and al-Qaeda before it, are no longer welcome," al-Fahdawi said.

As it turned out, the perpetrator of the Ramadi mannequin incident had been involved in ISIS-linked activities in the city of Heet in western Anbar, and was wanted by the criminal court in that area, he said.

After the group's defeat, he had continued to promote its ideology, and to accuse those who oppose it of kufr (unbelieving in God), al-Fahdawi added.

Iraqis reject extremism

"Anbar society is akin to a human body that has been vaccinated against a disease and has become immune to it," said Sheikh Abdullah Jalal, director of the Sunni Endowment Office in Anbar.

"The people of Anbar’s experience was horrific," he told Diyaruna. "They saw the truth about ISIS and the falsity of its slogans, and witnessed its actions and the destruction it brought."

For this reason, he said, they are certain that ISIS "in no way represents Islam nor the customs and traditions of the honourable people of Anbar".

"The residents of all cities in Anbar province now reject the calls for division, violence and rejection of others based on their beliefs, religion or work, and will not allow anyone to set himself as both the judge and executioner," he said.

Likewise in the Salaheddine province city of Tikrit, deputy police chief Col. Abbas al-Ajili told Diyaruna, security forces no longer need to print leaflets or posters to remind people to call 104 to report extremists or suspect activity.

Residents are constantly volunteering such information on their own, he said.

On July 13th, for example, a man was arrested west of the city after a number of people reported that he had used his Facebook account (opened under a false name) to interfere with the work of the security forces.

In the post, he urged local residents not to co-operate with a youth initiative to distribute juice to the members of a police patrol on the outskirts of the city.

Another person was arrested in early August, and was charged with assaulting the staff of a co-ed primary school and demanding the separation of the students, al-Ajili said.

The arrest came in response to a report filed by residents, he said, noting that the city has been taking incidents like this more seriously than it did in the past.

"They now view them as a danger that threatens to reopen the chapter of devastation and death," he said, so they respond accordingly.

People want to live in peace

Ninawa province residents simply want to live like other people, Ninawa police chief Maj. Gen. Hamad Namis al-Jubury told Diyaruna.

"They are not on an isolated island, and see other people of the world living in freedom and peace," he said.

"People here have seen the falsity of ISIS’s slogans and no longer have the inclination or desire to hear any of its arguments, including those related to religious directives that have been proven to have no connection to Islam whatsoever and were misrepresented to suit their sick impulses," he said.

Since the group's ouster, people have reacted to unwelcome reminders of its extremist legacy in various ways, he noted.

"There are some who oppose everything ISIS called for with regard to the dress code, food, drink and celebration, and there are some who watch for anyone who promotes, advocates or adopts its ideology, in order to report them," he said.

Fallujah resident Khader Abbas al-Jumaili told Diyaruna that people in his city prefer preachers who advocate life and keeping things simple, and not those who dig out stories that create divisions in the community.

Some mosques sat empty because of the extremist sermons delivered by their preachers, he noted, and this led the Sunni Endowment office to replace them.

This is a sign that the community no longer wants to hear a broken record that has led to the loss of thousands of lives, he said.

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