The Isis-isation of our world

UEF Bulletin 2016

For centuries, the Christian West stereotyped the Islamic East as evil and menacing, or effeminate and stagnated. After the 1979 Khomeinian revolution, and in an accelerated tempo since the 9/11 attacks, the former notion has strengthened.

The rise of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, or Isis, in the early 2014, is hailed in Western media and rhetoric as the apotheosis of the Evil One himself, the more so due to Isis’s apocalyptic vision of the world and its extreme methods of control and punishment of its “enemies” and “apostates”. While during the Second World War the Allies projected all evil onto the Nazis or Hitler, today, Isis is a good excuse for purifying “us” from all defects and loading “them” with all the flaws of the world.

I do not claim that Isis is innocent. I claim that its existence gives Western authorities a licence to apply the dichotomy of good and evil to everything they consider unacceptable. In other words, the coming into existence of Isis has resulted in the Isis-isation of our world. I take two examples, the Finland’s current immigration policy and its education policy.

The Finnish, and in most cases the common European, immigrant policy seems to assume that the incomers, being mainly younger males, are in most cases (former) Isis terrorists. In some cases that is true, but the problem is the generalisation, the postulate that because one of them is a war criminal, they all are. I can imagine how the Isis leadership rejoices: the corrupted West is just as evil as the Isis propaganda argues: it hates all Muslims. Moreover, such a generalisation tells us more about us than them. Why does Finnish criminality not make such headlines?

We have learnt nothing from the 1970s, when such European organisations as the Rote Armee Fraktion or Brigade Rosse tried to change our world. Their critique of the capitalistic system contains much worth considering, as does that of the Islamic organisations, extreme or otherwise, but it was rejected and the authorities adopted the RAF and BR methods and answered terror with terror. Today, we do the same, although we use administrative rather than naked violence.

Such terror has even taken over the education system. Schools and universities are no longer places for educating people: they are for manufacturing “quality products” or making economically profitable innovations. Administrative terror consists of turning both teachers and pupils or students into cogs that have to work effectively. If they don’t, they can be replaced; or the whole “machine” may be substituted. For me it is no wonder that the brightest – especially the younger ones – emigrate, or, having lost their jobs, or at least the reason to work, enlist in the ranks of Isis. However, I wonder why the option for negotiating with the other side has been dropped. Why do we suppose human behaviour cannot change the world?

Teuvo Laitila

Docent, Senior Lecturer in Church History and Comparative Religion