ISIS's and secular justifications for violence : the sacred as a justifying tool
Aida Mihaela Arosoaie
Date of Issue2017-03-27
S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies
Following the establishment of the so-called Caliphate, global mainstream discourse portrayed ISIS as a terrorist organization that justifies violence in a uniquely Islamic manner. This paper joins the circle of academic studies which challenge this misconception and claims that, contrary to the common assumption, ISIS and Western secular governments justify violence against each other through the same logic, by resorting to the notion of the sacred. Manifested through forms and symbols, the sacred constitutes structures of meaning that inform social practices and draw to themselves social collectives based on emotional identification. The sacred has power relations intrinsic because it provides people with normative claims regarding social practices. ISIS appropriates the Islamic sacred forms of ummah (collective Islamic identity) and Caliphate (legitimate governing authority), and argues they define a Muslim at an existential level. Projecting the ummah as humiliated by Western hegemony, ISIS claims that all Muslims have been dishonored by Western supremacy and calls upon them engage in violence and self-destruction in order to gain meaningfulness, honor and recognition. In the West, sacred forms such as reason, civility and humanity define the public sphere as the secular sacred space and popular sovereignty as the secular collective identity. Based on humanity as a double-standard notion, Western secular societies clearly demarcate their communities of humans from the other, the sub-human, and justify violence against the latter based on self-defense. Essentially, ISIS and Western secular governments justify violence against each other by means of the same logic characteristic of human societies in general.
DRNTU::Social sciences::Political science