The Islamic State on Refugees Leaving Syria

UPDATE: Here’s a longer form argument of the below post that I developed more over the past day.

For those who want to blame the attacks on Paris on refugees, you might want to get your facts straight. The reality is, The Islamic State (IS) loathes that individuals are fleeing Syria for Europe. It undermines IS’ message that its self-styled Caliphate is a refuge, because if it was, individuals would actually go there in droves since it’s so close instead of 100,000s of people risking their lives through arduous journeys that could lead to death en route to Europe.
Here are descriptions of the messaging that IS put out on refugees in mid-September. There is no sign that Syrians in any appreciable number have heeded IS’ calls.
September 16: The Islamic State: “Would You Exchange What Is Better For What Is Less? – Wilāyat Ṣalāḥ al-Dīn”
This video addresses the issue of those leaving the Islamic State for the lands of the infidel – i.e. refugees fleeing to Europe. An Islamic State speaker explains how it is correct for Muslims to leave the lands of the infidel for the lands of Islam, but not vice versa: Muslims should seek to live in a land where the shari’ah is enforced. Speakers warn that the ‘Jews and Christians’ do not have their interests at heart, and will force them to convert in order to remain in their countries. They cite issues such as the restrictions against hijab and niqab in European countries such as France. They assert that the Islamic State will remain strong despite those leaving. They will find happiness only in the land of the caliphate.
September 16: The Islamic State: “Warning To the Refugees From the Deceptions of the Crusaders – Wilāyat al-Janūb”
A speaker discusses how the reason for the war between Islamic State and the infidels in based solely on religion. He makes this the basis for his argument that Muslims cannot live in non-Muslims lands or seek refuge in infidel lands: such people can be considered to have abandoned their religion.
September 16: The Islamic State: “To [Those That] Abandoned the [Refugee] Camps – Wilāyat al-Khayr”
The video opens with a historical section discussing the flight of Muhammad to Yathrib in order to found the Prophetic ‘state’, even though he had to leave his home. This is compared to refugees leaving the Islamic State for Europe. The narrator laments those escaping only to find themselves living under the unjust rule of Europe, or perishing in the sea. There are several news clips about the harsh treatment that refugees have faced in Europe. A speaker then discusses how Muslims should not mix or fraternise with infidels, and various members of the public are shown expressing their surprise at those who leave for Europe. They ask what they are hoping to find there: will they even be able to worship in mosques? The video suggests they will be forced to convert to Christianity, in exchange for money or citizenship. Interviewees warn others of the treatment they will face, and ask them to remain in the Islamic State: those who leave will be forfeiting their reward in paradise.
The Islamic State: “A Message To the Refugees of the Abode of Infidelity – Wilāyat Ḥaḍramawt”
A speaker addresses those fleeing to Europe, asking why they are leaving the paradise that they have been given, only to submit themselves to the rule of Europeans and the humiliation of living in Europe. He cites Qur’anic verses about the necessity of leaving the lands of the infidel and traveling to the lands of Islam, and other verses and hadith about the prohibition on mixing with infidels. He asks Muslims to imagine what their lives would be like if they went to Europe: exposing themselves to the dangers of drowning and people-smugglers, and then if they arrived in Europe, being subject to injustice and outrage there.
September 17: The Islamic State: “Muslim Asylum Seekers to the Abode of the Disbelievers – Wilāyat Ḥimṣ”
Opening with news clips of refugees in the Mediterranean, this video then cuts to a speaker who discusses the imperative to remain within the lands of Islam. He talks about the threat of conversion, and video clips are shown of Christian religious materials which were supposedly distributed in Syrian refugee camps. Another interviewee describes how Islamic State has cared for refugees from the Syrian regime.
September 17: The Islamic State: “Messages from the Muslims to the Displaced Peoples [Going] to the Abodes of the Unbelievers – Wilāyat al-Furāt”
This video consists mainly of a sermon about those fleeing the Islamic State, arguing that it is not legitimate migration as it involves Muslims traveling to lands of the unbelievers which are subject to human laws rather than the shari’ah. Those who make the journey are debasing their honour. The preacher further argues that Europe is accepting Muslim refugees as a tactic to increase the Shia, Druze, and Christian population of Syria, and thus defeat Islamic State. There are then several interviews with two ‘ordinary Muslims’ wearing medical scrubs. They offer ‘advice’ to those fleeing: they are going abroad only to be ruled by tyrants, and everything they need is provided in the Islamic State. There is then an interview with a refugee who fled al-Qaraytayn for Islamic State, who explains that he fled to Islamic State because dignity and the shari’ah are preserved there, and advises other refugees to do the same.
September 17: The Islamic State: “Alert of the Unsuspecting From the Immigrants to the Abodes of the Unbelievers – Wilāyat al-Fallūjah”
This video opens with news clips of drowned and struggling refugees in the Mediterranean, refugees being beaten and chased by police, and so on. It then shows a series of interviews with people who express their disbelief that people would choose to travel to Europe, when European countries make war on Muslims and try to convert them. Muslims can only know true happiness and dignity in Muslims countries: they compare the refugees to those coming to the Islamic State from all over the world. Some cite a Prophetic hadith about eschewing those who mix with unbelievers.
September 17: The Islamic State: “Advice to the Refugees [Going] To the Countries of Disbelief – Wilāyat al-Barakah”
This video also begins with news clips of refugees and then moves on to interviews with people offering ‘advice’. Some discuss the probable motives for European countries in opening their doors to refugees, arguing that it serves only their interests by weakening Islam and forcing Muslims to work for their interests. They describe life in the Islamic State favorably and wonder why anyone would want to leave, and urge those who have left to return. An Indonesian fighter describes how they will not escape death, because ‘death will follow them wherever they go’.
September 18: The Islamic State: “And [He] Will Replace You With Another People – Wilāyat Ḥalab”
This video opens with a montage of clips: a shot of Aylan Kurdi with the caption ‘they weep for him’ and a shot of a child being dug out of rubble with the caption ‘they ignore him’; footage of refugees being beaten by police; and clips from a news report about foreign fighters traveling to Syria via Turkey. It then shows a number of interviews on the subject of refugees: they describe the differences between the lands of Islam and the lands of the infidel. There is then a video montage in which scenes glorifying those migrating to the Islamic State – e.g. foreign fighters training – are juxtaposed with scenes showing refugees being mistreated in Europe. This is followed by further interviews, in which respondents talk about how foreigners who emigrate to the Islamic State are more their brothers than those who leave for abroad to live among the enemies and the tyrants. Europeans are only opening their borders so they can turn refugees to fight against Islam.
September 18: The Islamic State: “To Those Who Are Displaced – Wilāyat al-Raqqah”
This video is half a sermon, half interviews, all dealing with the refugee issue. The typical themes are discussed: traveling to the lands of Islam in the way of Allah is laudable, whereas the reverse is not; European countries are only welcoming them to serve their own interests; Muslims will not be able to live as they want in Europe; they are traveling to the lands of those who attack Muslims; their children will abandon Islam; and so on.
September 18: The Islamic State: “Dear Refugees, Hear It From Us – Wilāyat al-Jazīrah”
This video opens with news clips of refugees. There is then an interview with two Dagestani fighters, speaking Russian, who discuss how the lands of infidels are full of injustice, unlike the land of the caliphate. There is then an interview with refugees who fled the Peshmerga and have found refuge in Islamic State, where they say they have been welcomed and are living a good life with no problems. They thank Islamic State for providing them with everything they need. A Turkish and an Uzbek fighter then discuss how young men are being deceived into making the journey to Europe, but that most Muslims are not fooled. They advise those leaving for Europe that the Europeans are not looking out for their best interests.
September 19: The Islamic State: “Asylum of the Muslims to the Abode of Infidelity and Residing There – Wilāyat Dijlah”
This begins with an interview with refugees who have come to the Islamic State, describing why they chose to flee to Islamic State rather than to Europe. Another interviewee discusses how the rate of those migrating to Islamic State far outstrips those leaving. Typically contradictory reasoning is used: interviewees might describe how they prefer the safety and security of Islamic State, then in the next sentence state that they want to remain there despite the constant coalition bombing because they would rather die with dignity in the lands of Islam.

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