For many throughout the world, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, otherwise known as ISIS, has come to represent the modern day boogeyman. Characterized by vicious acts of violence, forced conversions, kidnappings and beheadings, their campaign of terror is projected into our homes on a nightly basis via the news or other forms of media. But what is ISIS, how did they evolve, how do they operate, and to what extent do they accurately reflect the fundamentals of Islamic faith and ideology?
This profoundly pertinent topic serves as the basis for the documentary titled ISIS: "Islamic" Extremism?, a thoughtful examination of a movement which has managed to generate ire and occasional support from citizens across every corner of the globe.
Classified as a terrorist organization by the United Nations, ISIS is a rebel group composed of radicalized Islamists who have conquered scattered regions throughout the Middle East, and seek to take control of many others. Their formation and rise to dominance came on the heels of the American-led war on terror, which resulted in the dethroning of al-Qaeda from the region. "Chaos is fundamentally an environment that ISIS [lives] on," observes Aymenn Al-Tamimi, an expert in Middle Eastern affairs and extremist groups at Oxford University, early in the film.
In addition to Al-Tamimi, the film also provides commentary from an assortment of other fascinating voices, including Abu Rumaysah, an ISIS supporter living in Britain, as well as ISIS detractors Dr. Usama Hasan, a senior researcher at the Quilliam Foundation, Mohammed Ali-Hilli, Islamic speaker and researcher, and Sayed Yousif Khoei, an esteemed Shi'a Islamic scholar.
In the midst of their observations, and disturbing footage of several grisly atrocities carried out by ISIS, comes the notion that these radicalized groups have perverted the purity of the ancient Islamic religion. According to Maulana Shahid Raza, Executive Secretary of the Muslim Shariah Council in the UK and another of the film's interview subjects, ISIS has "nothing in common with the great Islamic moral and spiritual teachings of tolerance, love, peace and coexistence."
Hosted by British Muslim political analyst Mojtaba Masood, ISIS: "Islamic" Extremism? expresses a need for all influential figures to join together to combat the scourge of ISIS and other extremist groups like them, and to combat the destructive perceptions of islamophobia that they instill in the hearts and minds of people throughout the world.