Middle East

Islamic State video campaign urges migrants to stay

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Media captionHeading for Europe is described as a "grave sin" by Islamic State

The so-called Islamic State (IS) has released a series of video productions urging Muslims not to migrate to European countries, telling them to come to IS' self-declared caliphate instead.

The clips were released through IS-linked Twitter accounts in the last few days, and are part of a co-ordinated social media campaign to convey a stark message to Muslims in the region.

The videos, which say that leaving what they call Muslim territory is a "grave sin", take advantage of the current European refugee crisis to tell prospective migrants that they can expect nothing but humiliation and exposure to immoral lifestyles should they decide to leave.

It is not the first comment from the extremist group on the refugee issue, but it is the clearest indication that IS is concerned by the numbers fleeing their rule.


The Arabic-language videos were produced by IS "provinces" in Syria, Iraq and Yemen and released by Twitter accounts linked to the group on 16 and 17 September.

According to the propaganda videos, life is calm under the governance and "complete security" of Islamic law under IS rule - glossing over entirely the daily fighting, air strikes and zero tolerance of dissent in the group's areas in Syria and Iraq.

Image copyright IS Propaganda
Image caption An armed militant explains why migrants should come to Homs in Syria

The warm welcome to newcomers is a recurring theme in propaganda videos from IS, which desperately needs to sustain a viable population in order to bolster its claim to administer an Islamic "caliphate".

On the other side of the coin, they highlight what they say is the humiliation, deprivation and discrimination experienced by refugees and migrants under the canvas tents of refugee camps in freezing conditions and warn that they would be exposed to an immoral lifestyle in Europe.

Taking advantage of the European crisis, viewers are told that thousands are making a perilous journey to Europe to no good end, and face being met with heavy-handed treatment from security forces.

The stark choice presented by the clips is made clear: Heading for Europe is described as a "grave sin", with one commentary promising "hell-fire" for deserters.

'Where are you seeking refuge?'

IS had at first remained officially silent on the refugee crisis, but recently passed comment in its English magazine, Dabiq, released on 9 September.

IS' message on refugees has been amplified through a Twitter campaign that has attracted over 31,000 posts under a hashtag that translates as "where are you seeking refuge?"

As with any Islamic State propaganda campaign, powerful imagery is used to promote the videos. Viewers are drawn to one of the clips on Twitter with images of Alan Kurdi's body, juxtaposed with those of children injured in what IS claims are allied bombing raids.

But while the videos and social media campaign promote IS with a positive image, there is no mention of the brutal penalties meted out to those who dare question IS rule.

BBC Monitoring reports and analyses news from TV, radio, web and print media around the world. You can follow BBC Monitoring on Twitter and Facebook.