The ISIS Crisis: Wars in Education

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“…leaders who bask in this false glory eventually discover they have believed their own propaganda. By this time it is too late and they are headed either for a prison cell or forced to flee.” (al-Harthi, 2014)

Background
The extremist group for the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) has been a threat that has dominated the media, particularly Western media over the past six months. Fear and panic has been created through the coverage of this group, as the majority of the stories have been framed on the dangers that ISIS poses to security. However, their threats and inhumane reign within the unofficial borders of ISIS undermines any progress from the Syrian and Iraqi societies to push back. Though there has been radical violence perpetrated by ISIS around this unrecognized state, an element of their violence that has been marginalized in their coverage is their impact on education. The society that they hope to develop as illustrated in Raqqah, has been removed from a legitimate understanding of the Islamic faith and an extreme implementation of Sharia’a law.

Implications
They have banned many subjects taught in schools such as history, philosophy, psychology, and music changing course material to match that of fanatic teachings of Islam. These restrictions on education posed by ISIS are often punishable by death if not followed, hindering any form of expression by the students or teachers. ISIS has deluded the instruction of sciences through forced teaching of the laws of chemistry and physics as coming from God. Further, the segregation that they have reinstated in the education system has removed any potential for a progressive and inclusive society, supporting their goals in removing external influences. They continue to channel the oppressive nature of the Assad regime while utilizing acts of brutal violence and fanaticizing religious law, defacing the practices of Islam.

Intellectual Combat
Religion plays a dominant role in the demands of ISIS. For this reason, there have been movements from religious scholars in the region to take up an intellectual fight to expose the true intentions of the extremist group. An al-Arabiya report, targets the lack of an ideological response to the crisis posed by ISIS as a failure to stifle extremist tensions prior to the group’s creation. This frames knowledge and education as a weapon to combat the potential of radicalism. Even though, the idea of extremism and religion being fought through an intellectual movement is extremely necessary in addressing elements of fanaticism, this action alone is not strong enough. With attention to this issue in particular, education is highlighted as a tool for political use and ideological motivations. This highlights the negative implications of indoctrination as a source of informal education in an unstable state. This places an emphasis n the possibility for political incentives to be integrated into religious education.

Sources
Gordts, E. (2014). This is What Education Under ISIS In Raqqa Will Look Like. Huffington Post. Retrieved on November 4 from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/09/26/isis-education-raqqa_n_5889884.html
al-Harthi, M.F. (2014). Silence of intellectuals and emergence of ISIS. AL-ARABIA. Retrieved on November 1 from http://english.alarabiya.net/en/views/news/middle-east/2014/10/23/Silence-of-intellectuals-and-emergence-of-ISIS.html
Wikipedia. (2014). Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Syria). Wikipedia. Retrieved on November 4 from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Islamic_State_of_Iraq_and_the_Levant

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