The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, the jihadist group better known by the acronym ISIS, has put out a call for the assassination of Nayef Al-Mutawa, creator of the superhero comic The 99.
The Kuwait Times reports that in a series of tweets, the group accused Al-Mutawa of mocking the 99 names of Allah, and offered a reward for his death. “Who can kill Nayef Al- Mutawa who makes fun of Allah’s names?” was posted by one ISIS account while another said, "Whoever finds him, kill him, and he will be rewarded."
Growing out of al-Qaeda in Iraq, which has since disavowed the group, ISIS has of course been in the news for its military gains in Syria and Iraq, where it seeks to establish an Islamic emirate. BBC News has a solid primer on the extremist organization.
Al-Mutawa, who said he will take legal action against those behind the account, defended himself on his own Twitter, writing, "My work has glorified Islam from the U.S. to China for the past ten years. I really do not believe in ISIL and Qaeda … I don’t care about them."
Clergyman Hai Al-Hai cautioned against handing down death sentences on social media, saying that was the job of rulers and courts, and chaos could result if the laws are ignored.
Perhaps something like this was to be expected, as Al-Mutawa's intention in creating The 99 was to explicitly "take back Islam" from the militants who were using it for political means and to create positive role models for youth. In an open letter to his sons, he explained his intentions:
I would go back to the very sources from which others took violent and hateful messages and offer messages of tolerance and peace in their place. I would give my heroes a Trojan horse in the form of THE 99. Islam was my Helen. I wanted her back.
THE 99 references the 99 attributes of Allah - generosity, mercy, wisdom and dozens of others not used to describe Islam in the media when you were growing up. But if I am successful, by the time you read this, you will not believe that such an era could have ever existed.
Al-Mutawa received the blessing of several scholars of Islamic law before going forward with the comic. Nonetheless, the government of Saudi Arabia earlier this year banned the animated adaptation of the comic, and a Kuwaiti attorney filed a lawsuit calling for "the arrest of everyone connected with the series and for putting them on trial."