While reviewing a recent ISIS propaganda video, “Turkey and the Fire of Racism,” Hilmi Demir writes: [ISIS] presents itself as a force for correcting nationalism and returning humanity to the natural flow of its history. In this sense, it is not unlike Communism, which advertised a humane post-capitalist utopia. In the video, scenes displaying nationalism, such as Hitler’s Germany, Nasser’s Egypt and Atatürk’s Turkey have an industrial feel to them, often from old newsreels or deliberately distorted images. In contrast, ISIL militants talking into the camera invariably sit against a background of greenery — trees or shrubbery. Before the militants speak, the camera shows cuts of children playing, and birds gliding over a pristine pond. The underlying message is that ISIL is the only polity in the world in sync with God’s creation.
A part of the video features a militant speaking in Kurdish (with Turkish and Arabic subtitles), in an appeal to “Muslim Kurds, especially those living in Turkey.” ISIL here is seeking to establish its credentials as a post-racial society. Addressing the Marxist-Leninist Kurdish Workers’ Party (PKK), the militant asks, “Do you believe that your salvation will come from the hands of atheists [the PKK and its backers]?” He continues, “Under the shadow of Sharia, the only thing separating Arab and non-Arab alike is their piety,” he says. In its own way, ISIL is making a progressive claim. Unlike Turkey, which it sees as being dominated by a single “tribe,” everyone in ISIL territory is equal under its law.
International observers who accuse the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) of aiding ISIL might be surprised that the video takes the longtime Islamist government into its crosshairs. The AK Party, according to the video, clothes itself in Islamist rhetoric while acting as the “Crusaders’ hand of tyranny in the region.” Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is specifically labeled an apostate who perpetuates the secular agenda of Turkey’s foundation. [Continue reading…]