The sudden rise of ISIS in Iraq and Syria under its leader Abu Bakr Al Baghdadi and its brutal means of killing is a harrowing situation. It has waged a crusade against religious and ethnic minorities and has captured and beheaded a number of Western journalists and reporters.
ISIS aim to create a Caliphate, yet Muslim leaders across the world refuse to recognise them as anything but an extreme terrorist group.
The challenge for us here in Europe, however, is that ISIS has appealed to our disillusioned young people through effective social media recruitment. ISIS is a direct consequence of the dictatorial Asad regime and its mass killing of the Syrian people, which continues to take place whilst world leaders do little to help. As a result, ISIS has won the sympathy of young people who feel strongly about this injustice.
ISIS must end, period! But in order to do this, we need to win the ideological war just as much as the military one. The ISIS narrative must be challenged so that young people know that they do not represent the Caliphate and that their approach to the Syrian crisis is utterly wrong.
I have spoken twice against ISIS in European Parliament to urge the EU to act:
I have co-drafted and signed a joint letter from Muslim leaders calling on ISIS to release Alan Henning and condemning its actions against minorities:
I have requested an EU study to be undertaken looking at the different political and military groups in the Middle East. This is important because by being able to distinguish between these various factions, we avoid painting them all with the same brush. This differentiation strengthens our argument against hostile groups such as ISIS and helps us to support those that are humanitarian in nature: