Imams Urge Release Of Hostages

Muslim leaders will use sermons today to reiterate their opposition to extremism, urge young people not to join fundamentalist fighters, and call for the release of all hostages held by the Islamic State (IS).

Imams across Scotland will use Friday prayers to reinforce these messages, according to a joint statement from the Muslim Council of Scotland, Islamic Society of Britain and Glasgow Central Mosque.

Earlier this week the parents of Glasgow woman Aqsa Mahmood who left home last November, said they were horrified to learn that she had joined radicals in Syria and married an IS fighter.

They said she had "betrayed us, our community and the people of Scotland when you took this step'' but pleaded for her return, adding that they still love her.

Last month US journalist James Foley was apparently beheaded by an IS fighter with a British accent nicknamed "Jihadi John''. This week the same person is thought to have been responsible for the murder of American Steven Sotloff, and a British hostage is currently under threat from the group.

In their statement Muslim leaders said the community "unequivocally condemns the barbaric actions of IS (formerly known as ISIS).

"We send our heartfelt sympathies to the families of those who have been killed at the murderous hands of IS - regardless of where they are from or what their religion.The actions of IS are against the teachings of Islam and therefore supporting or joining such an organisation is unacceptable.

"We call for the immediate release of all hostages held by IS and pray for all of those killed, injured or harmed by extremism the world over.''

The leaders also called on governments to "react in accordance with international and domestic law'' when dealing with radicals, claiming that the war in Iraq had been the "greatest recruiting sergeant for extremist groups''.

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