National

Japanese Muslims condemn Islamic State threat; some fear damage to Islam's image

by Tomohiro Osaki

Staff Writer

Muslims in Japan on Wednesday condemned the threat a day earlier by the Islamic State group to execute two captives.

Some assailed it as an “unforgiveable” act of cruelty, and said the hostage-takers were unworthy of calling themselves Muslims.

Shigeru Shimoyama, a spokesman for Tokyo Camii, the nation’s largest mosque, denounced the video as “despicable” and “un-Islamic.”

Shimoyama said that in Islam, killing one innocent person is considered tantamount to killing all of mankind.

The 30-year convert to the faith said the Jihadi group’s actions stand in contradiction to Islam’s profound respect for human life.

In a video released on Tuesday afternoon, a knife-wielding militant threatened to kill Kenji Goto and Haruna Yukawa unless Tokyo pays a $200 million ransom within 72 hours.

The demand was apparently in response to an earlier pledge by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to provide $200 million in nonmilitary assistance to countries fighting the Islamic State.

Abe is currently on a six-day visit to the Middle East.

Shimoyama also expressed concern that the extremists’ actions would cement the belief in Japan that Muslims are by definition brutal and violent.

“The Muslims have long been misunderstood in Japan. An incident like this could further breed the illusion that Islam is a religion for terrorists,” Shimoyama added.

The people behind the kidnappings “are not Muslims,” he said.

Such a view is echoed by Haithan Ambu-saidi, 22, an exchange student from Oman who is currently studying at Tokai University in Kanagawa Prefecture.

“I’m sorry for anybody who is in trouble (because of) ISIS, because the group has no relation with the general Islam,” he said, using an acronym referring to the Islamic State.

“Muslims do not kill anybody. We don’t kill any innocent” people, Ambu-saidi said.

A Muslim man contacted at the Hokkaido Islamic Society, who asked that he not be named, similarly condemned the hostage crisis as unforgivable and brutal. He expressed the hope that the two men would survive.

Despite the horrific implications of the threat, the Japanese public would take the news in its stride, he said.

“Whatever ISIS may commit, I believe most Japanese are sane enough to know the extremist group doesn’t belong to us,” he said.