“Same signs” used between Moroccan players and jihadists? Attention

Germany calls a foul. Before the France-Morocco semi-final match of the World Cup, the Welt TV channel’s news broadcast focused on the sign made by the leading Moroccan players during the matches. The theme shows a photo of three Moroccan soccer team players raising their index fingers to the sky. From left to right, we highlight Ilyas Sadr, Abdelhamid Sabir and Zakaria Abukhlali.

According to the German press, the sign in question will be the same as the one adopted by the Islamic State (IS) terrorists. “We don’t know if they knew the meaning of this gesture in front of the jihadists,” the chain reproaches. Above all, the media confuses religion with terrorism. 20 minutes explains why.


In the photo, three players of the Moroccan football team strike the same pose, raising their index fingers to the sky. We can find the same photo on the Twitter account of the player Ilias Çair right after the game against Portugal on December 6.

According to the Welt chain, the sign will be associated with the Islamic State terrorists. But it is wrong. There is no message of radicalization of Moroccan players behind this photo. “It’s just a religious holiday, thank God if they made it there,” said Saeed Al Abadi, a sports journalist for the channel.

A religious sign

To better understand the meaning of this symbol, we interviewed a former member of the Council of Imams. “This sign represents divine uniqueness. This is the recognition that God is the only one,” he explains to us. Before adding: “It is a gesture we can do in all circumstances of life, but above all it is a return to God to show our gratitude to Him.” Therefore, this sign is a way to affirm one’s faith before it becomes a political gesture.

What will be the answer to the German channel, wondering about the legitimacy of this gesture after it was used again by the fighters of the Islamic State? “Because ISIS is using it, we have to leave it. “It is not because some people of ISIS go to the mosque and fast that we should abandon these traditions of Islam,” says the former member of the Council of Imams. The latter also regrets that the question arises not about Christian players who make the sign of the cross during matches, but about Muslim players. “It’s the same sign of uniqueness.”

Islamic State takeover

Moreover, the question of the sign of the pointer pointing to the sky often comes up. For example, in 2019, two men were taken into custody for taking selfies in the sky in front of the Strasbourg Cathedral. Two people were detained for apologizing for terrorism. The BBC later described the sign as an “ISIS salute” before apologizing.

Thomas Pierret, a political sociology researcher at the time, explained 20 minutes This gesture was systematically reproduced by the Islamic State. “By systematically associating this sign with his group’s communication, he will be associated with it by a significant number of people. This is what ISIS wants,” said the researcher, denouncing the “branding strategy.” “They transform the symbols shared by everyone into symbols that are unique to them.” Unfortunately, it’s a strategy that works in some cases.

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