I had never been able to dislike …Hitler! *
In our western world phrases of the kind “Devil’s Advocate”, “Dark Angles”, “Gates of Hell” etc rarely have bad connotations. On the contrary, not only they are popular, but they are also considered quite …cool. It seems that for some reason the Satan is not that …political incorrect. It seems that there must be something charming about Lucifer’s face. How else can one explain the catholic preference towards “bad” girls at the expense of the …boring ones! Based on these provocative statements I will attempt to briefly “defend” the evilest of the contemporary evils; the so called Islamic Fundamentalism.
One of the widows of the murdered Charlie Hebdo cartoonists claimed that she was proud of her partner because the latter died for his ideas. The lady was most likely right. Moreover, again most likely right, all of us after taking into account the sacrificial dimension of the slain cartoonists, we liked them even more. Yet, an original “Devil’s Advocate” would answer to that by reminding us that the Kouachi brothers also died for their …ideas. To be more provocative, contrary to the professional cartoonists the Kouachi brothers’ mission had no profitable aspect. When they were planning the attack they knew pretty well that there were no realistic chances of escape. Furthermore, during their manhunt many times they came across innocent “infidels” who, funnily enough, they did not shoot. Even Coulibaly, again funnily enough, did not kill all the hostages in the kosher grocery. And I say “funnily enough” for all of us “know” that Islamists apart from being “totally evil”, they are also “cowards” and “unscrupulous”.
But let’s take a virtual stroll to the lands of the absolute incarnation of evil; to the lands of the so called Islamic State. The “Devils’s Advocate” wonders why the alleged psychopaths who built it, did not butcher their western hostages as soon as they captured them? Why did they start and continue conducting on camera beheadings only after the beginning of the US led bombing campaign? Why do really the barbarous executions get huge coverage from the mainstream western media when the rest of Islamic State stories are practically concealed? Why John Cantlie’s “correspondences” and Dabiq’s digital issues are so difficult to find? Why does twitter daily suspends hundreds of accounts that are associated with the Caliphate? Why do the Jihadists’ forums and websites are systematically suppressed in the cyberspace?
A spontaneous response to the aforementioned rhetoric questions would suggest that zero tolerance towards the propaganda of evil is more than appropriate. However, unless my memory fails me, we were shocked by the attack against Charlie Hebdo exactly because it was an attack against the freedom of expression. Unless my memory fails me, we all proclaimed that “pens are mightier than bullets” thereby making clear that even blasphemy must be tolerated. But where really is the spirit of Voltaire when we are dealing with the pens that are praising the Caliphate?
But why do I raise these questions my dear reader? I know what you think! You assume that I secretly support the …absolute evil. It seems unthinkable to you that someone would adopt heretic views without being himself a heretic. Judging from the world that we live on, I do not blame you. To be honest, I would think the same about you. But this is not the case here and I will prove it by bringing to the fore a politically correct perspective. Islamic State fighters claim that they love death more than life. If one sees how they organise life in the Caliphate, he will be probably convinced for the validity of their claim. It is really striking how seriously Islamic State officials take sex segregation. Women are completely absent from the public sphere. Yet, if the Jihadists take notice of homosexual activity, they would punish the culprit by throwing him over rooftops. Undoubtedly, Islamic State hates Life in all of its aspects.
However the Islamic State is something more than beheadings, stonings, crucifixions and the rest of the barbarity that one sees in the mainstream media. To put it differently, so long as people are willing to migrate towards a war zone, they must find something positive on the task. It is really convenient to believe that all of those who dream to live in the Caliphate are merely psychopaths. Yet, things are more complicating than that. For instance, how many of us do we know that the Islamic State promises free housing, education and health treatment for its pious citizens? For better of for worse, real life is more reminiscent of a Greek tragedy, where the limits between heroes and villains are hardly conspicuous, and less of a manichaeistic Hollywood production where even a child can tell the difference between the good and the bad guys.
In plain words, the extreme branch of the Islamic State would most likely develop less if the efforts to silence all the voices that are praising it were less systematic. West has no real reason to be afraid of entering into an ideological debate with the Jihadists. On the contrary, when it a priori rejects them and makes use of extreme arguments of the kind “the Islamic State is unislamic”**, then it glorifies them before the eyes of the most dangerous target group; the young and immature Muslims who try to give their boring lives a believable purpose. The latter view with suspicion the general defaming of the Jihadists. Hence, many of them end up perceiving Al-Baghdadi as the wise old man who would guide them towards the path of the absolute knowledge.
US officials claim that the Islamic State will be soon defeated. Their predictions will most likely be verified for, as the battle in Kobani showed, the prayers of the “pious fighters” are no match to US smart bombs. The real question though is whether the coming Islamic State’s collapse will signal a viable solution to the general problem. Unless my memory fails me, before the emergence of the Islamic State Morsi’s government in Egypt was overthrown, Bin Ladin was demised, Hamas’s government was diplomatically and economically isolated, the Algerian FIS was proclaimed illegal after it won the general elections and the first emblematic Muslim Brotherhood leaders were assassinated or executed. If one studies the aforementioned spiral carefully, he will note that every time we “finished” Political Islam, the latter not only returned after a while, but it was also becoming more radical. This is how the Frankenstein of the Islamic State, which among others considers Morsi and Hamas as petty revisionists, came to being. In this respect, the “Devil’s Advocate” wonders whether it would be wiser for the West to at last approach Political Islam not with rejection and persecution but with a spirit of dialogue and inclusion. I am fully aware that my proposition sounds extreme but, in my defence, I need to point that the Middle East would now be in far worse shape if the US and Israel lacked the wisdom and the courage to postpone the attack against the Islamic Republic of …Iran.
* Orwell made this provocative statement in March 1940 in his review on Mein Kampf. He did so in order to contribute to the better and deeper understanding of Nazism.
** With regard to the Islamic character of the Islamic State one should see the in depth analysis of Graeme Wood.
See you soon