News about ISIS has been infiltrating our lives for months now, and many of us still don’t really understand the implications or even what this group is doing. The truth is that just because we are separated by continents and oceans doesn’t mean our lives are unaffected by this militant group and what’s coming next.
What is ISIS?
The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria is an Muslim rebel group that controls territories in those two countries, as its name suggests. This is an extremist organization and not every person who practices the religion aligns with the group’s ideas.
In Islam, similar to a preacher or a priest, groups follow a caliph, believed to be a successor of their prophet, Muhammad, and a religious leader. The group names itself a caliphate, making Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi its leader. As a caliphate, the group believes that once its troops arrive to an area and begin to take over, the legality of emirates, groups, states and organizations in that area comes to an end. The group also believes it has religious, political and military authority over Muslims worldwide.
To understand this in a different way would be similar to a denomination of Christianity claiming its ritual practices were the best by taking measures like ethnic cleansing, military action and terrorism to show not just other denominations, but all religions and nations. The denomination’s view of Jesus would be that he would approve of violating human rights to communicate these beliefs.
It sounds like a ridiculous comparison to a degree, but really it’s not that far off from what is happening. If you know how frustrating it is to see someone upset with Christianity as a whole because of what one individual Christian or group did, imagine other sects of Islam as they watch groups like ISIS carry out its mission.
What are ISIS’s goals?
According to the ISIS’ self-proclaimed goals, it ultimately wants to create its own Islamic state. This would be the area of land that the group members already have under control as well as the land they hope to take over, which would operate under both their caliph and extreme interpretation of Islam.
ISIS is also passionate about revenge against Western countries, including the United States, that they believe have wronged them.
In September 2014, Leonardo Blair, a fighter for Belgium, threatened the West in a documentary produced by Vice News: “God willing, the Caliphate has been established and we are going to invade you as you invaded us. We will capture your women as you captured our women. We will orphan your children as you orphaned our children.”
It just takes watching the evening news to hear a number of updates regarding what ISIS is doing. Among other acts, the group has been accused of genocide by the United Nations; it has destroyed countless priceless artifacts from museums in the Middle East; it uses child warriors; it frequently attacks different groups; and it uses terror strategies to create fear and respect for itself.
The ISIS-Boko Haram alliance:
Boko Haram recently swore allegiance to ISIS saying, “We announce our allegiance to the Caliph of the Muslims … and will hear and obey in times of difficulty and prosperity, in hardship and ease, and to endure being discriminated against, and not to dispute about rule with those in power, except in case of evident infidelity regarding that which there is a proof from Allah.”
Boko Haram is an extreme Islamist group located in Nigeria. The members have similar values to those of ISIS, but are particularly upset with the Westernization of parts of Nigeria and the concentrated wealth in the southern half of the country, which is primarily Christian.
How this affects you:
For one, I think as a campus and community of caring people, students at APU should be concerned with the human rights violations occurring.
ISIS is causing a flood of refugees to European countries and many to the U.S., bringing on an international refugee crisis that many places aren’t prepared to deal with.
Beyond that, there are economic ways in which we are affected by ISIS. What our government decides to do in response to it influences what our taxes are, something you will probably be paying, if you aren’t already.
Regardless of where you stand politically, every choice made in response to ISIS will have a financial effect on you. With that said, it is important to research and figure out what policy you think is best so that you can vote for what you want and have a voice in a situation that involves millions of lives as well as your own pocket.
Senior political science major Anna De Graaf believes it is important as voting Americans to be informed.
“As a citizen of the United States, the actions of our government on the global stage will reflect upon you and impact even mundane things, such as the price of vegetables at the grocery story,” De Graaf said. “The future of our country matters, and we are soon going to be the adults that are working full-time, paying taxes and voting in elections to choose where we want to go as a country. If we do not pay attention to what is happening around us, we will leave college with plenty of book knowledge and no idea of how to be informed voters and citizens.”
Unless you commute to APU every day from another state or Northern California, then you live in Southern California, where highways and cars are kind of a big deal, meaning you likely use gas. If you can sense where I’m going, then you’ll understand that even gas prices are affected by the climate in the Middle East, and that means filling up your tank relates to ISIS as well.
Will ISIS take over? Not the world, no. But it could take over the Middle East and other nearby areas, which is a threat because there is then the potential that it could better organize to commit more terror acts in the Western world.