ISIS wants to destroy cultural pluralism

Maha Yahya writes: ISIS wants to make the world in its own image. How the international community reacts to its horrific attacks will determine whether it will succeed.

ISIS has claimed more than 400 innocent lives in less than a month with attacks beyond Iraq and Syria in Paris and Tunis, a twin suicide bombing in Beirut, and the downing of a Russian jet in Egypt. Many saw in those attacks a civilizational struggle between the values of a liberal western world and a parochial intolerant Islam. Across Europe, calls are increasing for stringent measures restricting fundamental freedoms and eroding personal privacy as more than half US governors declared that their states will not accept Syrian refugees.

Through such responses policymakers are inadvertently dancing to the tune of ISIS that also views the world as divided in two; in their terms the “camp of Islam” and the “camp of the crusader coalition” that also includes Muslims who do not believe in the mission of ISIS. Its bloody attacks are one step in its efforts at eliminating the grey zone between these camps. This grey zone is the cosmopolitanism of Beirut and Paris; the places where the deliberate and accidental encounters between cultures, ethnicities and religions find themselves in music and writing, in scientific discoveries and in architectural feats.

ISIS did not begin its elimination of this grey zone in Paris or Beirut. It began with a pogrom in Iraq in June 2014, attacking more than two and a half million people of diverse religions and ethnicities that coexisted for centuries. Christians were expelled, the Turkomans and Shiites slaughtered and Yezidi women and children enslaved. [Continue reading…]

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