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Islamic State has a message for Muslims hoping to go to Europe

A group of refugees earlier this month walks along railway tracks near the town of Roszke, Hungary, after crossing the border from Serbia.

A group of refugees earlier this month walks along railway tracks near the town of Roszke, Hungary, after crossing the border from Serbia.

(Santi Palacios / Associated Press)

It’s not just Europe telling refugees to stay where they are.

Islamic State, the Al Qaeda breakaway faction that controls large swathes of Iraq and Syria, has joined in the effort to dissuade would-be migrants from coming to Europe.

Last week Islamic State released a series of videos on social media aimed at Muslims in Iraq and Syria, where thousands must contend with Islamic State’s harsh application of sharia, or Islamic law.

The message? Those who leave their territories are making the biggest mistake of their lives.

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In a nine-minute video titled “Honor of the Caliphate or Humiliation of the West,” an unidentified bearded French jihadist tells Muslims that Europe is an “imaginary paradise” and “a mirage” that will not give “safety nor dignity and not even luxury.”

“You are very close to the land of Islam, close to the land of the caliphate, but you chose to cross the sea and kill your children only to reach the land of disbelief.”

Islamic State propagandists seem to view the exodus to Europe as a blow to their plans to expand their self-proclaimed caliphate. The group already enforces strict controls on who may leave and enter its territory. Many of the Syrian migrants now arriving in Europe have been living outside Syria, especially in Turkey and Lebanon, for months or years.

The fate of the multitudes of Europe-bound migrants, according to Islamic State, is to go to the “Camps of Disappointment” and face a litany of woes, including humiliation, campaigns to convert them to Christianity, corruption and drowning.

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“Why do they go to these lands when their ancestors would go there as conquerors and not as slaves?” asks one bespectacled man in Raqqa, Syria, in a 21-minute video released last Wednesday, recalling Muslim advances in Europe in past centuries.

“He gives you food in one hand and humiliates with another,” says another man.

For Islamic State, the choice is simple, at least according to a video titled “Would you replace that which is good with that which is worse?”

It opens with a montage of videos depicting riot police forcefully subduing refugees, grabbing them and beating them with batons, before switching to a preacher excoriating those who would abandon Islamic State’s caliphate.

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Refugees “go to Germany and France, the worshipers of the cross [who] belittle Islam,” rails the preacher.

“Today, these are the countries to which, unfortunately, the youths -- our youths -- go, leaving the land of honor and happiness.”

A masked fighter standing before a verdant palm grove makes the point more forcefully:

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“To everyone who left to the land of disbelief by his own will: You will fail, you will fail, and your endeavor will fail.”

Bulos is a special correspondent. Los Angeles Times staff writer Patrick J. McDonnell in Beirut contributed to this report.

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