“We have to kill each and every one of them, wherever we find ISIS.” Yezen Al Obaide was speaking to me amid last-minute preparations in the pouring rain for a rally Monday by Norway’s Muslims against the Islamic State (ISIS) terrorist group.
As hundreds gather in Oslo’s historic Gronland neighbourhood with signs saying “No to ISIS”, Obaidea, one of the organizers of the event, told me as he arranged the podium:
“Our Prophet Mohammed had prophesized that evil men will emerge and spread terror in the name of Islam and we Muslims were ordered to kill them wherever we found them.”
Norway has been home to radical Muslims for quite some time.
In one event in Oslo last year, 4,000 Muslim attendees raised their hands in support of sharia law and the killing of gays. A week before the protest, their leaders urged Muslims in the country to back ISIS.
The Monday protest was intended to help stem the rising tide of Islamic radicalism.
I talked to many Arab and Somali women in hijab, and asked them if they renounced the doctrine of armed jihad, or opposed the use of sharia as a source of public law. Not one was against jihad, but they all insisted they were against ISIS.
Later, the crowd of more than 5,000 Norwegians, including hundreds of Muslims, marched to Norway’s parliament, where Prime Minister Erna Solberg spoke.
She quoted the Prophet Mohammed saying, “If one of you sees something wrong, let him change it with his hand; if he cannot, then with his tongue; if he cannot, then with his heart and this is the weakest faith.”
Mehran Marri, exiled leader of Balochistan’s Marri tribe in Pakistan’s war-torn Balochistan, where ISIS affiliates are fighting Baloch nationalists, also attended the protest, but thought political correctness was in play.
Mehran Marri (right) with protest organizer Yezen Al Obaide (left)
Marri told me marching against ISIS was not enough.
“We cannot fight ISIS without fighting the doctrine of jihad and without exposing the bankruptcy of Islamic states such as Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and Iran,” he said.
“Too many leaders in the West are reluctant to identify the elephant in the room, which is Islamism. If they cannot fight the ideological foundation of ISIS, then we will see the ISIS cancer spread.”
I was hoping to see Emmy Award-winning, Oslo-born Muslim filmmaker Deeyah Khan, who had to flee Norway after harassment from Islamists, but she was not there.
Also missing was Norwegian activist Aliaa Magda al-Mahdy, who received death threats after she uploaded a picture of herself menstruating and defecating with another woman on an ISIS flag.
I asked Khalid Thataal, who came to Norway from Pakistan in 1970, why Islamists often dominate the Muslim discourse in Norway. He told me, “It’s because Islamic leaders have stifled any secular or humanist discourse among Norway’s Muslim community.”
Deeyah Khan told me in an email, the harassment she faced at the hands of Norway’s Islamists was not isolated.
“A Norwegian-Pakistani comedienne, Shabana Rehman, has been threatened and harassed for years, a young female Somali author was attacked and beaten in the streets of Oslo.”
Nevertheless, she said, the event was a step in the right direction.
The fact the keynote speaker was 19-year old Faten Al-Mahdi, a young woman who denounced the radical Norwegian group Profetens Ummah as “The Devils Ummah”, shows there is light at the end of the Muslim tunnel, but we have miles to go before we rest.