Prominent Muslim leaders in Japan have moved to condemn Islamic State after the conclusion of the two week hostage situation led to two Japanese journalists being beheaded a few days apart. The response from these Muslim leaders stems partly out of disgust, fear, and shock at the beheadings – which were videotaped and released online by Islamic State – but could also stem out of a fear of backlash at the small but growing Muslim population in Japan.
Muslim leaders in Japan say they are on the watch after the release Sunday morning of a video that seemed to show the beheading of Japanese journalist Kenji Goto. An earlier video showed another hostage, Haruna Yukawa, meeting a similar fate. Saeed Mughal, a representative of Islamic Circle of Japan, a group overseeing five mosques in and around Tokyo spoke of the matter.
“This type of action by IS [Islamic State] is not a Muslim action. We don’t know who they are, what they are planning and what they are thinking. We condemn their action and we stand with our Japanese brothers.”
Over the two weeks that Islamic State had held the two hostages, many representatives of mosques in Japan travelled to Tokyo in order to discuss their response to the, at the time, ongoing crisis. During this time, the representatives asked the media not to refer to the group as Islamic State, due to the fact that they believe doing so would misrepresent the nature of “peaceful Islam”, as well as seriously prejudice the Muslim minority in Japan.
When Islamic State first revealed that they had taken Japanese hostages, Japan reacted with a mixture of fear and shock. After the beheading of Kenji Goto, much of Japan reacted with outrage; Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe briefly spoke on the matter at the time.
“Considering the agony of the families. I am left speechless. The government has done everything in its power, but I cannot but feel the deepest regret … We will never forgive the terrorists. To punish them for this crime, we will unite with the international community. I feel indignation over this immoral and heinous act of terrorism.”
US President Barack Obama also spoke of the matter, calling it a “heinous murder.” UK Prime Minister David Cameron said it was a “further reminder that [ISIS] is the embodiment of evil, with no regard for human life.” After Mr Goto’s execution, his brother also weighed in on the matter, but could not hide his outrage.
“I was hoping Kenji might be able to come home. I was hoping he would return and thank everyone for his rescue, but that’s impossible, and I’m bitterly disappointed. The fact that it ended this way, as his brother I feel great regret.”
[Image: AP Photo.]