How many Muslims does ISIS have to slaughter before people will stop calling the group “Islamic” anything? Seriously, can someone please tell me the number of innocent Muslim men, women, and children who have to die at the hands of ISIS before people will realize that ISIS is truly unIslamic and arguably anti-Islamic?
On Tuesday, we saw more of ISIS’s barbaric brutality on display with the release of the video depicting its killing of Jordanian Muslim fighter pilot Muath al-Kasasbeh. He was flying sorties as part of the U.S.-organized coalition to destroy ISIS.
The way he was killed sets a new low in depravity. ISIS militants first chained Kasasbeh in a cage and then poured flammable fluids into his cell. With Kasasbeh watching, an ISIS militant lit the fluid on fire. Then while Kasasbeh was burning to death, they dropped debris on him, like brick masonry. Finally they drove a bulldozer over him several times.
What makes the killing of this man so noteworthy is not just the viciousness of his execution, but that it actually received national U.S. media coverage. We rarely see our media cover the Muslims killed by ISIS or al Qaeda. I often wonder, is it because some in the media feel that Muslims lives don’t matter? Or is it because they sense that collectively, most (though not all) Americans could care less about it when non-Americans are killed, so that translates into low ratings for these types of stories?
To be honest, how many have heard about the details of ISIS slaughtering of Muslims? In 2014 in Iraq alone, can you guess how many Muslims civilians—not fighters, civilians—ISIS killed? At least 4,325. ISIS is murdering an average 12 Muslim civilian men, women, and children every single day.
And these killings are not “collateral damage” deaths. Per a United Nations report released last September, ISIS targeted Muslims, both Sunnis and Shias, who refused to submit to it. We are talking a Sunni leader from the Salah ad Din province of Iraq beheaded (PDF) in August for refusing to swear allegiance to ISIS. Do you recall U.S. media wall-to-wall coverage of that beheading, like when Westerners were beheaded?
Three Sunni nurses were executed in Mosul for refusing to treat ISIS fighters. A Sunni imam in eastern Baquba was killed for simply denouncing ISIS.
And in neighboring Syria, per the London-based Syrian Human Rights Committee, in December 2014 alone, ISIS killed at least 49 civilians, executing almost all in front of their families.
Why do these facts matter? Because I think it makes it clear to any reasonable person that ISIS is not about the tenets of Islam. Their religion is power.
Those aren’t just my words. In September, more than 120 Islamic scholars and clerics wrote a letter to ISIS in both English and Arabic denouncing ISIS and its invoking of Islam to justify its horrific actions. They even explained in great detail how ISIS is violating the Quran and teachings of the Prophet Muhammad, concluding that ISIS is truly unIslamic.
Yet these words don’t move many on the right in America, who continue to argue in essence: If a Muslim yells “Allahu Akbar” after committing any action, that absolutely means that their conduct is based on the faith. That is beyond simplistic—it’s idiotic.
And nearly as ludicrous is the claim by people like Republican Sen. Kelly Ayotte, who stated on Fox News on Sunday that we need to call it “radical Islam” because we “have to define our enemy.”
Look, there’s no such thing as “radical Islam.” There is only one Islam. But there are radical Muslims. And there are Muslims who engage in terrorist acts. They are called terrorists. That is the proper way to describe them.
That is exactly what White House Press secretary Josh Earnest stated a few weeks ago when refusing to use the term “radical Islam” to describe al Qaeda or ISIS. As Earnest noted, it’s about “accuracy,” noting correctly that “these terrorists are individuals who would like to cloak themselves in the veil of a particular religion.”
Just read the ISIS magazine and you will see how they desperately seek to frame its battle with the United States as an “American crusade against Islam.” (PDF) That is why when Sen. Lindsey Graham recently called the fight with al Qaeda a “religious war,” I can only imagine these terrorists were high-fiving each other because he was parroting their words.
Using the word Islam in any way to describe ISIS or al Qaeda, or framing our fight as a religious war, is exactly what they want. It helps them recruit and raise funds. Let’s call ISIS—as well as al Qaeda—what they are. They are terrorists with a political agenda who are using the Islamic faith, not acting in accordance with it. That is our enemy. Now let’s defeat them.