BERLIN – A group of Western mothers whose children have joined the Islamic State group and other extremists in Syria and Iraq appealed Wednesday for them to return home, quoting from the Koran.
In an open letter posted on social media websites, members of Mothers for Life called on their sons and daughters to recall that Islam requires them to honor their parents and spare them suffering.
"Even if you think death will give you that 'better' life, remember that even the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) said: 'Paradise lies at the feet of your mother,'" the group said. "By leaving us against our will to give up your own life and take those of others, you have put our struggle, pain and honor under your feet and walked over it."
Thousands of young Western men and women have joined the Islamic State group in recent years after being recruited by other extremists, often operating online.
Mothers for Life — which has Muslim and non-Muslim members from seven countries including Canada, France and the United States — said their decision to launch the appeal on social media is part of a conscious effort to publicly challenge those who have lured their children away.
"Social media right now seems to be their strength in recruiting our youth," said Canadian mother Chris Boudreau, whose son was killed in Syria last year. "We've got to fight fire with fire," she told The Associated Press in a telephone interview.
The group also wants to help other families struggling to bring their children home, and highlight the need for politicians and security officials to take the parents of foreign fighters seriously.
Mothers for Life is run by the German Institute on Radicalization and De-radicalization Studies in Berlin. It has several Muslims among its dozen members and also sought advice from Islamic scholars to challenge the religious arguments put forward by extremists.