Shiite Iraqi scholar Jawad Al-Khoei, co-founder of the Iraqi Council for Interfaith Dialogue, said that ISIS is deeply rooted in Islam and that “when [violence] dons the cloak of religion, it is a hundred times more evil.”
He said that whether violence will remain in the region “depends on our determination, our resolve, and the will of our rulers.” Talking about the need to include Christianity and the Yazidi faith in the religious curricula in Iraq, Al-Khoei said that the Christians were “the owners of this land, and the Muslims came here as their guests.”
The interview aired on BBC Arabic on March 5.
Following is a transcript:
Jawad Al-Khoei: Violence in our region has its origins here. We are all in the same boat. There is no difference between Syria, Iraq, and so on. Some of the violence is the outcome of the injustice of the dictatorships that ruled us. Poverty, ignorance, deprivation and oppression all stem from that. Some of the violence is religious violence. It exploits religion.
The birth of ISIS is not an anomaly. ISIS is deeply rooted in Islam. Its roots can be traced back 1,400 years, to the first century of Islam. When you read [Islamic] history, you find that people would kill someone, then exhume the body, cut off his head and then burn the body.
Hostess: But all nations experienced this kind of violence.
Jawad Al-Khoei: Fine. But violence is a bad thing, and when it dons the cloak of religion, it is a hundred times more evil.
Hostess: From what you are saying it sounds as if violence is predestined to remain in this region, because it is so deeply rooted.
Jawad Al-Khoei: No. This depends on our determination, our resolve, and the will of our rulers. If our rulers really want … I mean, is it really conceivable that to this day, there is not a single page in the religious curricula in Iraq about Christianity or about the Yazidi faith?
Hostess: Even though the first Christians were …
Jawad Al-Khoei: They were the owners of this land, and the Muslims came in as their guests.