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Targeting kids not acceptable within Islam says academic

Islamic State militants in Syria
Connla Young

WHILE the targeting of children and young people has for many been the most shocking feature of the Manchester attack, it is not without precedent in other parts of the world.

In 2014 an Islamic extremist linked to Al-Qaeda shot and killed three children and a Rabbi at a Jewish school in the French city of Toulouse.

In the same year 141 people, including 132 children, were killed when the Pakistan Taliban attacked a school in Peshawar.

It emerged last year that extremists planned to kill small children at a kindergarten in Germany by feeding them poisoned ice cream before carrying out a suicide attack.

It has also been reported that Islamic State has killed and sexually abused children and young people in conflict zones including Syria and Iraq.

The extremists have forced their own children to take part in the brutal murder of hostages, and there have been reports of children being crucified and beheaded during gruesome executions.

Just last year it was reported that Islamic State inflicted a horrific death on up to 250 children using industrial equipment during one incident in Syria.

In 2004, there were 186 children among 385 deaths when Russian troops stormed a school which had been taken over by Islamic Chechen rebels.

The Beslan school siege was sparked when the rebels took more than 1,100 people hostage and demanded a Russian withdrawal from Chechnya.

The use of children a bargaining chips by other Islamic groups has been repeated in recent years.

In 2014 the Nigerian-based Boko Haram kidnapped 276 girls. Earlier this year the group released 82 of the girls.

Large numbers of children have also been killed during US-led coalition air strikes in Middle-Eastern conflict zones over the last two decades.

Last night an expert on Islam-West relations at Queen’s University, Belfast urged caution about the motivation of those responsible and claims of responsibility.

Dr Zaheer Kazmi said children are often targeted by Islamic extremists.

“These groups, Al-Qaeda, ISIS, Jihadist groups, both recruit children and they target children to some extent,” he said.

“Targeting children I would not say is a major part of their strategy.”

Dr Kazmi also said Islamic militants have a history of targeting venues where young people gather, like the Bataclan theatre in Paris in 2015 when 89 people were killed.

Western norms about protecting children tend to be ignored.

“ISIS see these rules and conventions as essentially man-made laws and western laws that they do not subscribe to,” he said.

“These conventions on the rights of children do not really matter to them.”

However, Dr Kazmi also said that targeting children is not acceptable within Islam.

“Within the jurisprudence of Islam this is very much beyond the bounds,” he said.

“There are rules of war that govern these things within Islam, these groups have a very different approach.”

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