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ISIS or Daesh!

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(Screenshot from Vice News documentary 'The Islamic State', August 14, 2014 via medium.com)

Calling Daesh "Islamic State", "ISIS" or "ISIL" serves the policy of this radical organisation and its intention to spread its ideology and promote its existence, writes Dr Ibrahim Natil.

HAS DAESH succeeded in promoting media hatred and breaking the bridges of dialogue and coexistence in Europe?

Daesh targets Muslims and non-Muslims in Tunisia, Mali, France, Sinai, Beirut and Ankara.

The moderate, liberal world, including Muslim communities across the globe, have strongly condemned the atrocities and hateful actions carried out by the barbaric criminals of Daesh (ISIL or ISIS) in the heart of Paris and elsewhere. They condemned the actions of Daesh in Syria and Iraq that have killed and displaced thousands of people since the Syrian and Iraqi crises began. 

In the light of the increasing bloody actions of Daesh, I think it is very significant for politicians, academics and journalists to use the correct terminology — “Daesh” and not "ISIS" or "ISIL”. This is because they are not representatives of Islam or any “Islamic state”.

Daesh uses the term “Islamic State in Iraq and Syria or (Levant) — ISIS or ISIL” in order to change the perception of people around the world. They want people to believe that their organisation is a functional and de facto state in the Middle East. It seems that the repeated use of “ISIS” by the media serves the policy of this radical organisation and its intention to spread its ideology and promote its existence.

However, there is no actual sovereign “Islamic State” in Iraq or Syria, despite Daesh controlling vast geographic locations in both countries for more than a year now. They also control the oil wells in these areas and sell oil to fund their actions. Daesh has been isolated, boycotted and besieged by international alliance forces for over a year. It is very strange, however, that a number of questions still need a clear answer from actors in both Iraq and Syria. Where has Daesh sold the oil and to whom? Are the buyers known to the international community? Why have their names not been publicised and why have they not been punished? I think the media should investigate these questions — this action might save the lives of many people.

Media Hatred

Unfortunately, the liberal media in some Western countries have been dragged down and influenced by Daesh terrorist actions in Paris. They have "attacked" Muslims living in the West — that is, those who are part of Western diversity. A number of media agencies are playing a zero tolerance game which promotes the values of hatred and instability. Much of the western media, however, have already provided good platforms for Muslim clerics to express their condemnation of the Paris attacks. Many Muslim mosques have been attacked in several European countries, and yet, many Muslims and their institutions have condemned the atrocities in Paris.

These criminals have hijacked Islam for political and economic reasons including serving their own unknown and hidden agendas. Daesh are attempting to break the bridges of coexistence and dialogue between Muslims and non-Muslims across the world. It is obvious that these actions are not serving Islam and that true Muslims would not carry out such actions which defame their faith and its tolerant message of peace, dialogue and coexistence with other faiths and religions. Islam has a long history of coexistence with many faiths, as well as with many different social, cultural and political backgrounds in numerous countries around the world.

Daesh have not only killed non-Muslims. They have also killed and murdered thousands of Muslims in Iraq and Syria during the last few years. Those countries with a Muslim majority have suffered from various waves of attacks carried out by Daesh. Muslim nations have been a part of war on terrorism since September 11, 2001 and have paid the price of terrorism more so than other nations.

Fighting Terrorism as well as other agendas

The international community, represented by its states and unions from various multi-cultural backgrounds and interests, has already made its own pledges at numerous regional and international summits, to use all of their available resources to eradicate terrorism, including Daesh in Syria and Iraq. However, it seems that these pledges and commitments are encountered by a variety of strategic interests and political calculations based in the geopolitics of Middle East.

The recent Russian military operations in Syria, to fight and eradicate Daesh and/or support the Syrian government against its rivals, has imposed another complex layer and challenge to the political landscape of the Middle East, with the absence of a comprehensive peace plan including post conflict reconstruction and development. The Russian military intervention in Syria and the USA-led international alliance, to fight Daesh in Iraq and parts of Syria, which has not yet succeeded in achieving its purpose of eradicating terrorism and bringing peace, democracy and prosperity to the region. Fighting terrorism is essential for the protection of humanity and peace-building; the Middle East including Iraq, however, has not lived in peace or prosperity for more than a decade.

From a peace perspective and a post-conflict reconstruction and rebuilding strategy, all efforts so far have failed to rebuild or reconstruct Iraq. Former British PM Tony Blair has already admitted his "mistakes" and the role of conflict in the rise of “Islamic State”, but he defended armed military “liberal interventionism” in Iraq during 2003. This military intervention, however, has cost thousands of lives and the destruction of Iraq. It has so far failed to bring democracy or peace to the region.

Margot Wallström, Sweden's minister for foreign affairs, in her condemnation of the Paris attacks, which claimed the lives of at least 129 people, as well as wounding hundreds more, stated:

“Of course we have cause for concern, not just in Sweden but throughout the world, because there are so many being radicalised and, again, it reminds us of the situation in the Middle East, where the Palestinians see that there is no future for them and have to either accept a desperate situation or resort to violence.”

The Israeli foreign ministry responded to Wallström’s comments by saying that her statements were “hostile” and “appallingly imprudent” .

Despite the cruelty and barbaric acts, Daesh will not succeed in breaking the bridges of coexistence and dialogue between the many different cultural and social backgrounds in Europe and the West. They will not succeed, in particular, because neither Islam nor Muslims can be judged because of the actions of a criminal and terrorist group, who have stolen the name of their faith.

There have been many criminals and terrorists who have used their faith for barbaric and terrorist acts against Muslims, for example, in Myanmar (formerly Burma), the Republic of Central Africa and former Yugoslavia. Muslim communities are an essential component of Western diversity and society. Europe realises that those who committed the terrorist acts on European soil are not true Muslims. Europe must also play a very active role in resolving the conflicts in the Middle East, because military intervention is not the ideal or sole solution for conflicts in the region. Palestinian statehood must be recognized now as a necessity for Western values of democracy, human rights and self-determination of peoples.

Dr Ibrahim Natil is visiting fellow at the School of Politics and International Relations, University College Dublin. You can follow Dr Natil on Twitter @Natilibrahim.

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