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How Not to Talk About Muslims After a Fringe Terrorist Group Attacks


How Not to Talk About Muslims After a Fringe Terrorist Group Attacks

Juan Cole

1. Stop calling Daesh “the Islamic State.” They are manipulating you. They aren’t a state and they aren’t Islamic. If some fringe cult took over some villages in Mexico and called itself “The Vatican,” then committed terrorism, would journalists blithely say on air “Today, the Vatican killed 39 and injured 200 with a bomb belt”? People in the Middle East hate this small desert fringe, and they term it “Daesh,” not “Islamic.” They should know.


" They are manipulating you."

Just who are they? Who are the people that have the most to fear from Muslims? Answer: the oligarchs; the banksters; the international financiers. Cui bono? From this demonization of Muslims. They do!


Excellent analysis as usual from Professor Cole!

I must believe the handles - IS, ISIS, ISIL, all containing the term "Islamic" - tacked on the depraved terrorists have propaganda value to those using the terms in the west; the MICC, politicians and corrupt "leaders", arms manufacturers and dealers, and the security/police state - stoke fear and support will follow........

Without an "enemy" much that is diverted from civilian society to military/security constructs and agencies or into the pockets of the connected might be forced (back) into those critical civilian needs now starving.......


Unfortunately, in publishing his excellent points here or on his personal blog, he is only preaching to the choir. He article needs to be read by the huge islamophobic population of the US, not us.


How is that? Their best customers are the wealthy Muslim states of the Arabian peninsula...

Sometimes racism and xenophobia is just racism and xenophobia.


True. Let me clarify: I meant to say, the people that I named have the most to fear from losing the fear of Muslims, they are the manipulators, because they love selling to their best customers and are making billions and that fear is their raison d' etres.

Thanks for the correction.


1) "DAESH" is an acronym in Arabic for the equivalent of "Islamic State". It is also derogatory, which is why it's useful in Arabic. But don't claim it's a way to avoid saying "Islamic State".

It is foolish to deny that it is a state. It controls territory, has an army, and imposes laws (albeit hideously unjust laws) and taxes. However, we can dispute its questionable claim to represent true Islam.

Thus, I call that organization "PISSI", for "Pseudo-Islamic State in Syria and Iraq".

2) The proper adjective for this particular category of terrorism is "Islamist". It is part of a political movement to impose Islam on the world.

3) Violent people may come, coincidentally, from any religion. but the issue at hand is violence carried out in the name of religion.

It is true that other religions besides Islam are also sometimes the basis for violence. In South America and subsaharan Africa, violence against women deriving directly from Christianity is rife. In India, violence in the name of Hinduism is common, against Dalits and against Muslims.


Aren't Muslims followers of Islam? Why does Juan Cole suggest we call them Muslims? Isn't that also disrespectful to Islam?


Although I read and try to educate myself, I find the Middle East to be mind boggling. There is an article, "What ISIS Really Wants" by Graeme Wood in The Atlantic, March, 2015 that seems to take an opposite position to Prof. Cole. If anyone has read it or care to, I would love to hear your thoughts.


What is unIslamic about ISIS? They are following the example of the life of Mohammad, who participated in caravan raids, murdered innocent people in numerous wars, raped widows in the hours following the slaughter of their husbands, and bought and sold sex slaves. I suppose we will need to call the life of the Prophet Mohammad unIslamic as well? The vast majority of Muslims are peace loving people who 1. do not really know what the Quran says 2. are aware of what the Quran says but defer to religious teachers who provide a whitewashed interpretation of difficult verses (i.e. commands to kill do not really mean "kill") or 3. recognize the difficulties of the Quran and modernity and try to reform (i.e. divide the life of Mohammad between Meccan period and Medina period). However much we would like to believe that ISIS (and the many other terrorist groups inspired by and using Islamic theology as a means to accomplish political ends) has superimposed something on Islam or is a "cult", we have to be honest and acknowledge that the literal interpretation of the Quran is also Islam. It's an ugly truth, but it is nevertheless the truth.