More from RELS 348: Empire, Colonialism, and Religion

In today’s world of unprecedented access to information, not a day goes by where the Internet is not bombarded with news articles speculating on the numerous conflicts taking place around the globe. Currently one of these issues that is receiving widespread attention is the ambitions of The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS). This group has made its claim to fame through its countless violent atrocities and many are left wondering what their fundamental aim is. To no surprise, much of Western media has used ISIS’s actions to support an ongoing campaign against Islam. A French journalist by the name of Didier Francois was a prisoner of ISIS for 10 months, and he believes that his captors cared little about religion. Mick Krever, in his article entitled “ISIS captors cared little about religion, says former hostage,” CNN, 4 February 2015 provides us with an account of Francois’ time as a prisoner, and why he believes that ISIS is a group with primarily political, rather than religious, ambitions.

The beginning of the article contains quotes from Francois telling of the lack of religious motives he perceived to be held by his captors. He explains that what his captors were believing “has nothing to do with the Quran” and that they did not even wish to give him and his fellow prisoners a copy of the Quran. The remainder of the article contains stories of Francois’ interactions with guards, along with speculations on the West’s political interactions with ISIS. Notably pertinent to matters of colonialism, Francois mentions that “Jihadists from the former French colonies in North Africa… were also comparatively harsh in their treatment of French captives”.

This article is particularly intriguing because it does not focus on the religious aspects of ISIS, as many other articles do. Instead I was left wondering about the possible imperial aspirations of the organization. Western media often paints a picture in our minds that sees Islam as a religion of violence, and uses groups like ISIS as its evidence. This article is refreshing because it leaves one to speculate on the idea that perhaps ISIS’s intentions are to create a political empire, and that subscribing to their religious values are a secondary, and far less important goal of theirs. With the seemingly increasing intensity of acts committed by ISIS, I think it is beneficial to view this conflict as an exclusively political issue. Indeed countries like Saudi Arabia have stated that regardless of religious values, Middle-Eastern countries must come together and create a coalition to eradicate ISIS.

Identifier: JSrels348

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