TEL AVIV – A prominent Iraqi Shiite interfaith activist told BBC Arabic earlier this month that the Islamic State terror group’s violence, including beheadings, is “deeply rooted in Islam,” which makes it “a hundred times more evil.” Jawad Al-Khoei also said that Christians were “the owners of this land, and the Muslims came here as their guests.”
Al-Khoei, who is the co-founder of the Iraqi Council for Interfaith Dialogue, said that while historically some violence in the Middle East is the result of oppressive dictatorships coupled with poverty and ignorance, much of it has its roots in religion. The Islamic State, therefore, is not an anomaly.
“It exploits religion,” said Al-Khoei.
“IS is deeply rooted in Islam. Its roots can be traced back 1,400 years, to the first century of Islam. When you read [Islamic] history, you find that people would kill someone, then exhume the body, cut off his head and then burn the body,” he said in the interview, which was translated by the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI).
The host of the BBC Arabic program then interjected, “But all nations experienced this kind of violence.”
Al-Khoei responded that when violence “dons the cloak of religion, it is a hundred times more evil.”
The Muslim scholar continued by saying that combating violence in the region is possible but will require “determination” and the “will of our rulers.”
He continues by blaming the education system in his home country of Iraq for being Muslim-centric and not promoting inclusiveness by teaching about other religions.
“I mean, is it really conceivable that to this day, there is not a single page in the religious curricula in Iraq about Christianity or about the Yazidi faith?” he asks.
The host once again interrupts by suggesting that the Christians might be to blame.
Al-Khoei dismisses the notion and says forcefully, “They [the Christians] were the owners of this land, and the Muslims came in as their guests.”