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Louisville Muslims Denounce Islamic State of Iraq and Syria

Leaders in Louisville’s Islamic community are publicly condemning the actions of the extremist militant group known as the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria—or ISIS.The U.S. government considers ISIS to be a terrorist organization, and the group’s fighters are responsible for the death ofthousands of civilians on both sides of the Iraq-Syria border.On Monday, representatives from more than five Muslim groups in Louisville were joined by representatives from Christian and Jewish communities to decry the message of ISIS, which styles itself as a Caliphate—or the religious authority over all Muslims around the world.“We feel that they have hijacked the word Islam to promote their nefarious agenda,” said Muhammad Babar, a physician and president of the Pakistani-American Alliance for Compassion and Education.Babar, speaking to WFPL after a Monday morning news conference, stressed that the Muslim faith practiced by more than 1.6 billion people worldwide—and an estimated 6,000 Louisville residents—cannot be paralleled with actions or ideals expressed by ISIS.“The Muslim-Americans are, like any other American, stressed out at these organized acts of barbarianism by these folks called ISIS,” Babar said.Since the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, Babar said, Muslim Americans have had  the “utmost responsibility” to show the “true face of Islam to fellow citizens.”“Every faith tradition is based on peace, love and compassion and Islam is also based on these universal principles,” Babar said.When groups like ISIS begin to gain control in parts of the world, and with it international media attention, it can create a threatening environment for not just those people living near the epicenter of the situation, but also for Muslims far away from the fighting, Babar said. This includes Louisville.Locally, non-Muslim residents may see a glimpse of the fighting through the news media and make judgments about all of Islam.  But Babar said that isn't the case.“Groups like ISIS,” he said.  “They do not belong to us.  They do not represent us.”

Jacob Ryan is the managing editor of the Kentucky Center for Investigative reporting. He's an award-winning investigative reporter who joined LPM in 2014. Email Jacob at jryan@lpm.org.