More than 10,000 Kurds in Hanover protest against the terror of ISIS in Iraq, August 16, 2014
As the group calling itself the Islamic State continues its rampage across Iraq and Syria, killing thousands and forcing tens of thousands more to flee, world leaders are condemning the violence and calling for an end to the bloodshed.
The Sunni jihadists, formerly known as ISIS (Islamic State in Iraq and Syria), now simply call themselves the “Islamic State” and have declared a new Muslim Caliphate in the Middle East. Although this self-styled Caliphate has called on Muslims worldwide to join their holy war, many have condemned the actions of IS and are distancing themselves from the group.
In a shocking development, IS executed American photojournalist James Foley on August 19 in a response to US air-strikes against the group. Foley was captured by ISIS in Syria in November 2012 while documenting the ongoing civil war there. James Foley is the first American to be executed by the jihadist group. Immediately after the killing, IS warned that another American hostage, journalist Steven Joel Sotloff, would be executed if the US did not cease their attacks.
The world's response to the brutal execution was one of revulsion and anger. World leaders both political and religious harshly denounced the Islamic State, calling for an end to the violence and asserting that the jihadist group did not represent any religion. President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono of Indonesia, a country with one of the largest Muslim populations in the world, was fiercely critical of the self-proclaimed Caliphate. He called the extremist militants “embarrassing” to the religion and warned against extremism, stating, “All leaders must review how to combat extremism. Changing paradigms on both sides are needed — how the West perceives Islam and how Islam perceives the West.”
President Obama responded to the Foley execution with anger and sadness, extending his condolences to the family but making it clear that the actions of ISIS would not be tolerated or go unpunished. In an August 20 address, the President stressed that the Islamic State does not represent Islam, pointing out that IS has killed thousands of Muslims: “So ISIL speaks for no religion. Their victims are overwhelmingly Muslim, and no faith teaches people to massacre innocents. No just God would stand for what they did yesterday, and for what they do every single day.”
Despite the threats from IS, efforts have been ramped up against the jihadist group. US air-strikes have increased, and with American assistance Kurdish Peshmerga fighters successfully re-took the Mosul Dam from IS forces. US support personnel has also been deployed on the ground to protect key assets and to assist the Iraqi and Kurdish forces.