NEW DELHI (AP) — The chief cleric of Bangalore's main mosque said Tuesday that he has advised the heads of hundreds of mosques in India's technology hub to actively counter propaganda by extremist Islamic groups by reaching out to young people in colleges and on social media.
Mohamed Maqsood Imran, chief cleric of the city's Jamia Masjid, said he is urging Muslim clerics to alert young men and their families about attempts by groups such as Islamic State to recruit them.
Imran said he wants Muslim leaders to caution people about the agenda of Islamic State extremists.
"The message we want to convey is that Islam stands for humanity and not violence and intolerance," Imran said by telephone from Bangalore.
"Many young people today are going astray. It is our duty to prevent them from being misled," he said.
In his letter, written in the Urdu language, Imran said the Prophet had warned against the killing of women, children, old people and unarmed men. "Then how can the bombing and killing of innocent people be justified?"
India's approximately 180 million Muslims generally hold moderate views and have opposed the extreme practices of the Islamic State group and al-Qaida. Muslims constitute about 14 percent of India's population of about 1.3 billion.
However, in recent months, there have been concerns that extremist groups are trying to recruit fighters from among Indian Muslims.
Last month, more than 1,000 Muslim clerics in India ratified a religious edict condemning the Islamic State group, calling its actions un-Islamic.
Over the past few months, Indian authorities have stopped around two dozen young people from leaving the country allegedly to join Islamic State fighters. Officials say they have evidence that 17 Indians have joined the group.