Iraqi activists, parliament members and citizens condemned a recent message from the wife of al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri that calls on Muslims to raise their children "in the cult of jihad and martyrdom".
Umaima Hassan Ahmed Mohammed Hassan urged Muslim women to instil "a love for religion and death" in their children, in a message posted on the al-Qaeda-affiliated website al-Fajr on June 8th.
She said "all Muslim women of the world" should raise their children "to love jihad and die in the cause of Allah".
The text also counselled women to encourage their husbands and sons to free al-Qaeda prisoners "wherever they are".
A number of female Iraqi leaders said the essence of Islam counters calls like Hassan's.
The call is "a misleading, devious appeal," Sallama al-Khafaji, a member of Iraq's human rights commission, told Mawtani. She said such appeals "reflect the state of despair and frustration al-Qaeda is suffering now".
"This is a call to raise children on terror and violence," she said. "It has nothing to do with Islam, which urges parents to instil the values of kindness, tolerance and brotherhood in their children -- not to raise them to love suicide, or love killing and harming others based on misleading interpretations that deviate from Islamic principles."
Al-Khafaji said Islam and the other religions honour the human being and prohibit suicide and killing others.
Islam promotes compassion, reform and the establishment of societies in which people live and co-exist in peace and harmony, she said.
"The call by the al-Zawahiri's wife, which can be considered part of al-Qaeda's dark ideology, is a flagrant violation of these teachings and violates all human values, conventions and empirical laws," al-Khafaji said.
"This call is clear evidence the public increasingly rejects al-Qaeda's ideology, as well as the level of despair and frustration the organisation's leaders are facing, prompting them to use all means possible to regain the support they lost as a result of their criminal operations against innocent people," she told Mawtani.
"After al-Qaeda's fraudulent ideology was exposed and its destructive policies were revealed, such ill-intentioned calls will not find many women in Islamic countries who will listen to them or follow them," she said.
Al-Khafaji, along with other women in parliament, underscored the importance of intensifying efforts to fight extremism and religious prejudice, and confronting those who promote terror.
It is necessary to reject "any call to raise children on or embrace teachings that incite violence and shedding innocent blood", parliament member Suhad al-Obaidi told Mawtani.
"The essence of Islamic belief stands counter to such calls because Islam urges to raise children on the values of compassion, goodwill, virtue and good deeds," she said.
"Children are the future generation, the pillars of nations and societies," she said. "It is essential to raise them in a healthy way based on compassion, acceptance of others and peaceful co-existence, whatever their affiliations or tendencies."
Al-Obaidi said Iraq must adopt steps at the national level and increase awareness about the dangers of extremist ideologies to prevent terrorist groups from poisoning children's minds or recruiting them to carry out violent operations.
Iraqi women contrasted the way they raise their children with the way al-Zawahiri's wife suggests rearing children in her message.
Raja Jassem is a housewife whose son died in a bombing attack in Baghdad's Karrada district in in 2007.
"Was killing my only son, who was 11 years old, a jihad in the cause of Allah?" she asked. "Al-Qaeda followers have no religion. Allah will take revenge against those savages for the crimes they committed against thousands of innocents and for the catastrophes they have brought us."
Abeer Hussein, a 31-year-old housewife with two children, will not raise her children for jihad.
"I raise my children on the love of Allah and teach them to adhere to tolerant religious values and morals," she said. "I will do my best to tutor them until they become able to serve people and not become projects for death in the service of terrorists."
Meanwhile, university student Roua Saadi -- in reference to the message's praise of Arab Spring participants -- told Mawtani that Hassan's call is "a despicable attempt by al-Qaeda to steal the Arab revolutions".
"This time it chose to send a message to the mothers of martyrs of the Arab Spring in an attempt to win their sympathies," she said, adding that she believes such attempts will end in failure.
Human rights activist Hana Adwar said these attempts distort religious beliefs.
"Terrorist forces often resort to distorting religious beliefs, and they manipulate people's minds and feelings in order to mobilise them to serve their policies, or use them in their criminal activities," she said.
Hassan's call to raise children to love death "is a methodology al-Qaeda often uses when promoting its ideology to the simple-minded to make them, using religious propaganda, embrace deviant ideas and accept [these ideas] as unquestionable doctrinal truths that cannot be contested or negotiated," Adwar said.
"Confronting this propaganda requires that we work hard inside our communities to fight illiteracy and ignorance, promote education among children and launch campaigns and programmes in partnership with the media, civil society organisations and moderate religious scholars to educate the community, particularly in the rural and remote areas, so they will not fall prey to militants and extremists," she said.