Muslims Use Creative Campaigns to Denounce ISIS


One of the narratives that often contributes to Islamophobia is this one: Muslims don’t speak out against terrorism and violence committed in the name of Islam.

As we and others have written, Muslims actually do speak out, in incredibly large numbers. The Bridge Initiative’s forthcoming interactive map, which is the largest catalogue of Muslims’ condemnations of ISIS worldwide, will help correct the misperception that Muslims don’t speak out, and bolster the narrative that ISIS doesn’t define Islam. You can see a preview of the map here.

Yesterday’s piece by Christiane Gruber in Newsweek, which highlighted cartoons drawn by Muslims to criticize the horrors committed by ISIS, prompted us to share other creative “condemnations” of the group.

As Gruber’s piece points out, Muslims have turned to art to make their case that ISIS is not just a distortion of Islam, but a threat to Islam and Muslims everywhere. Her article provides examples from Arab cartoonists, and other outlets have covered satirical television programs across the Middle East that make fun of ISIS. Our catalogue also includes other creative campaigns to speak out against ISIS: Twitter hashtags, YouTube videos, and massive prayer demonstrations.


Started by Muslim youth in Britain, the hashtag campaign #NotInMyName received attention throughout the world, as Muslims globally Tweeted, Facebooked and Vined their own personal denunciations of ISIS. You can check out the associated website here. The campaign was so successful that President Obama referenced it in his 2014 speech to the UN.

Other hashtag campaigns were also started during the fall of 2014 to amplify ordinary Muslims’ condemnations like #MakingAStand and #StopTheCrISIS.

The frenzy also extended to Facebook, where there are at least 20 groups of Muslims against ISIS in English alone. Searches in other major languages like Arabic, Spanish, Persian, etc. will no doubt yield a much higher number.

Viral Videos

It wasn’t just youth that turned to social media—older clergy members did as well. Sunni and Shia leaders in the UK recorded a short clip that circulated widely on YouTube, condemning ISIS and discouraging young Muslims from joining the group.

The #MuslimApologies campaign also produced a YouTube video, in which Muslims mocked the call for them to condemn terrorist groups who have nothing to do with ordinary Muslims. They jokingly apologize for 1) the violence committed by others—“As a Muslim, I apologize for World War I and World War II, even if it has nothing to do with Muslims, but just in case”—and for 2) the good things Muslims have brought to society—“Sorry for trigonometry and astronomy.”

The video didn’t get nearly as much circulation as it deserved. Watch it here:

Protests and Prayer Services

Muslims didn’t only use social media to speak out against ISIS—they also took to the streets and pulled out their prayer rugs.

15 imams in Britain called for a national day of prayer to remember those slain by ISIS. Muslims in Minnesota held an interfaith dialogue to discuss ISIS. 2,000 German mosques banded together to demonstrate against ISIS after their Friday prayers.

Protests were also held in Iran, Finland, Turkey, Canada, Norway—where 5,000 Muslims demonstrated—and Times Square, in New York City, among other places.

These creative approaches to denouncing ISIS are also accompanied by the more formal statements of Islamic leaders and organizations around the world. Some of the most notable groups include the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, a body of 57 Muslim-majority member states; al-Azhar University in Egypt, the most respected school in Sunni Islam; the two largest Muslim groups in Indonesia, who have combined membership of 50 million people; Saudi Arabia and Iran’s top clerics; and the large, international cohort of scholars who signed the “Letter to Al-Baghdadi,” which methodically shows how ISIS’ actions grossly violate Islamic teachings.

For more information, read our summary, “Here are the Muslim Condemnations of ISIS You’ve Been Looking For,” here.

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