Egypt’s Dar Al-Ifta, the government-sponsored religious body responsible for issuing fatwas, launched Tuesday an international campaign to introduce the “mercy” of Prophet Mohamed’s character to “correct a distorted view of Islam,” according to a Friday statement by the Islamic institute.
The institute’s Facebook page posted an introduction video and created the Twitter hashtag #paymercy4ward to kick off the campaign. The campaign will present sermons and articles in different languages and promote Islamic scholars’ visits to Europe. The campaign’s launch intentionally coincided with the run-up to the Prophet Mohamed’s birthday, which in 2014 falls on Jan. 13.
The new campaign comes in response to what Dar Al-Ifta described in its statement as “rising anti-Islam campaigns” and “mistaken associations” between Islam and extremist groups.
Since October in Germany, thousands have joined mass demonstrations organized by the anti-Islamist PEGIDA, with an estimated 17,500 joining a protest in Dresden on Monday, the AP reported. Protesting what they say is the “Islamification of the West,” demonstrators voiced concerns against the influx of Muslim immigrants in the country. The movement has been criticized by German Chancellor Angela Merkel as xenophobic.
Dar Al-Ifta has previously denounced extremism practiced by Islamic militant groups in Egypt and abroad. Such high-profile extremism is widely viewed as contributing to the growth of Islamophobia.
The beheadings of Western journalists and employees by the so-called Islamic State (IS) group have also been condemned by Dar Al-Ifta, and the institute urged the media not to label the group Islamic. Egyptian Grand Mufti Shawqi Allam, the head of Dar Al-Ifta, told Al-Arabiya in August that IS extremists are “far from the correct understanding of Islam.”
Allam also slammed the taking of dozens of hostages by Iranian-born Australian Man Haron Monis in a café in Sydney, Australia on Dec. 15. “This terrorist act is not related to Islam no matter what its motives are,” Allam said of the incident.
After the captor’s religious extremist background was revealed, the Australian hashtag #illridewithyou was launched to show support and protection for Australia’s Muslims.