Political Myths: ISIS
A story with culturally formative power that functions to direct the life and thought of individuals, groups or societies is known as a myth (Hexham: 2014). As stated by Henry Tudor, a political myth “is a device men adopt in order to come to grips with reality… (what counts is) not… the amount of truth it contains, but… the fact that it is believed to be true, above all by the dynamic form into which it is cast… political myths deal with politics” (Tudor, Political Myth: 1972:17). The myth in news reports is that the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) is a new extreme outlier (Greenfield: 2014). ISIS is a jihadist organization that is not a new phenomenon. The ISIS group has been attempting to enforce their view of conservative Islamic tradition through radical force. This is being achieved through their political leader Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi who was renamed as Caliph Ibrahim (Armstrong: 2014). Caliph’s are seen as political successors to the prophet Muhhamad. Through his leadership the ISIS organization has been able to conquer many parts of Iraq and Syria., which defeats the myth of ISIS being a new extreme outlier group because it requires a length of time to conquer territories. Through this time, ISIS has become a large and powerful force from its popular ideology that brought many fighters and financial support (Greenfield: 2014). So what culturally formative power directs the life and thoughts of these individuals that are part of ISIS? When we talk about ISIS, we refer mostly to the Sunni Arabs in Iraq and Syria, a branch of the Muslim world (Greenfield: 2014). Adhering to a different version of Islam, Shias Arabs are targeted by those Sunni Arabs because they are disgusted by the cultic practices or religious arts that distract them from the teachings of Muhammad. The Shias hold a messianic cult of martyrdom and ritual self-mortification, claiming a line of descent from the Prophet that Sunni Arabs regard as heresy (Thompson: 2014).
Armstrong, Karen. 2014. “The Myth of Religious Violence”. http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/sep/25/-sp-karen-armstrong-religious-violence-myth-secular
Greenfield, Daniel. 2014. “Busting the Media’s ISIS Myths”. http://www.frontpagemag.com/2014/dgreenfield/busting-the-medias-isis-myths/
Thompson, Damien. 2014. “ISIS invades Iraq: this is a war of religion”. http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/news/damianthompson/100276395/isis-invades-iraq-this-is-a-war-of-religion/