Imam Counters Islamic State Propaganda With Own Media Strategy

There is a team in Southwestern Indiana who opposes the radical Islamist group is taking to the Web to reclaim the message of Islam from extremist groups.

Dozens of four-minute Web episodes, targeting young people with questions about Islam and its relationship to violence.

In one episode, Imam called Omar Ali takes the lead by responded to a series of questions asked to him regarding Islam:

“You’re a Muslim guy, a peaceful guy and yet, you know, we see all this stuff in the news all the time about, you know, terrorism and violence and killing, you know, in the name of Islam — which is supposed to be a religion of peace. How is it that for them it’s not peaceful, but for you it is?”

“It’s not even left for question,” Atia says. “Unjust killing is completely forbidden.”

Imam Omar is the leader of the Islamic Society of Evansville.

Ali, co-founder of Reclamation Studios’ initiative, wants to try to dispel the image here that Islam is a foreign religion that forces believers to choose between nation and faith.

“There’s still this identity crisis that a lot of Muslim-Americans live, unfortunately,” Ali says, “because right now, still, the concept that Islam is a foreign faith to America.”

Richard Maass, who researches international security at the University of Evansville, says the Islamic State has been successful at targeting isolated people who have little or no knowledge of Islam.

“So the more initiatives like this one that openly refute ISIS ideology, especially online — and especially through live communications with people online — the more difficult it will be for ISIS to monopolize the perceptions of those vulnerable individuals,” he says.

Imam Omar has taken a great step forward in producing something digital & youth friendly promoting the correct Islamic interpretation. There are now more than a dozen people working on this project; the goal is to produce 70 Web episodes, all in an effort to help counter what they see as misinformation about Islam.

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