IS, the right definition

by Antonio Ferrari

Syrian soldier

Syrian soldier

It is clear that etymology does not suffice to catalogue and define the most brutal violence. Nonetheless, I am stimulated by Gabriele Nissim’s proposal to look for the right definition of this monstrous Islamic State (to tell the truth, not a state) that has become the gloomy and unpleasant shadow of our lives.

Nissim suggests to use the term “murderous Islamist fundamentalism”, and I essentially agree with him, because these three words dovetail nearly perfectly one into another. I say nearly and not completely because, for how true it is that the brigades of the self-proclaimed caliph Abu Bakr al Baghdadi (little fewer than 30,000 members) are made of fanatic fundamentalists who are thugs with an appalling voyeuristic taste for the exhibition of their fiercest violence, the word “islamist” is not completely accurate: in fact, IS targets are not only the so called “infidels” (Christians, Yazidis, Kurds..) but also a lot of Muslims fall prey to the deadly clutches of the caliph and his mob. Among them of course there are shi’as, but also moderate sunnis, and in principle all those who do not accept, and instead fiercely refuse the logics of the most cruel murder.

If this is their commandment, then the term “islamist” is inappropriate. Maybe it would more correct to use a nuanced definition, like “islamoid”, referring to more artefact, surfacial and peripheral a religious belonging: in essence, a religious byproduct smelling of heresy. It is though true that a term to define IS must be identified, for clarity reasons and not to fall into the trap of fear or the resigned indifference feared by Nissim, who analyses the risk of the building of new walls instead of fulfilling the need for understanding and dialogue.

The real problem is that we all are living a phase of extreme confusion. Those who know the Middle East and its twisted dynamics may have some more reason to try to assess at least the draft of an answer. Of course, it is difficult to explain that Saudi Arabia funded the IS at the beginning, and now fights against it; that the United States on the one hand negotiate with sh’ia Iran about the nukes, considering it a partner to talk with, while on the other hand they support the sunni coalition that is bombing the Houthis of Yemen gli Houthi, sh’ias supported by Tehran; that Israel, out of hatred against Iran, and scared by the uranium enrichment plans of the ayatollah regime, signed deals with the sunni Arab enemies, first of all Saudi Arabia, adapting to the motto “my enemy’s enemy is my friend”. These are only some of the clues that we should be able to decipher to easen our difficulties of understanding.

Thus, the quest for the “right definition” is highly welcome, although there is a primary urgency. What is it? Well, it would be fine if the European Union, instead of acting in a scattered way, found the will to react collectively, with resolve, against the IS and the danger it represents. If we do not manage to cooperate even in the face of deadly risks, prisoners as we are of our national selfishness, there will unfortunately be fewer and fewer opportunities to win.

Antonio Ferrari

Analysis by Antonio Ferrari, editorialist for Corriere della Sera

3 April 2015

Don’t miss the story of the Righteous and the memory of Good

Once a month you will receive articles and events selected by Gariwo Editorial Board. Please fill out the field below and click on subscribe.

Grazie per aver dato la tua adesione!

Our Editorials

load more