Hot off the Arab press 410629

What citizens of other countries are reading about the Middle East.

Iraqi security forces hold an Islamist State flag which they pulled down at the University of Anbar, in the western city of Ramadi on Sunday. (photo credit: REUTERS)
Iraqi security forces hold an Islamist State flag which they pulled down at the University of Anbar, in the western city of Ramadi on Sunday.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
The Islamis State and its brand name 
Al-Sharq al-Awsat, London, July 25
Today, every household around the world is familiar with the acronym “ISIS.” This was not the case just two years ago, when the organization was more commonly referred to as the “Islamic State.” Since, however, its people extended their activities into Syria, the Western media quickly adopted the catchy acronym. This is exactly what the organization had hoped for: a new brand name that will give it legitimacy, credibility, and fame around the world. The Islamic State, however, is not much different than Al Qaeda. Their operations and goals are one and the same. Referring to the organization as the “Islamic State” or giving it the acronym “ISIS” is dangerous on two levels. First, it causes non-Muslims to associate the religion of Islam, as well as its innocent followers, with terror. The “God is Great” slogan on the ISIS flag surely doesn’t help people distinguish between the two, and the average American – who do not understand much about Islam – will easily conflate the two terms.
Second, the brand name increases the group’s appeal in the eyes of local Muslim populations. Young Iraqis and Syrians who want to prove their religious piety often choose to join the organization, as it claims – including by us in the media – to be the ultimate patron of Islam. Al Qaeda was not this clever. It was associated mostly with Osama Bin-Laden, and it didn’t even have a flag. The Islamic State, meanwhile, works hard to brand itself and increase its recognition. Several governments – including France and Australia – have recently called on the media to stop using this name in news reports. This is an important step. What we are facing today war that cannot be conquered with weapons. Only ideas and beliefs will help us win this ideological war.
– Abd al-Rahman al-Rashed
Turkey’s new stance on ISIS
Al-Hayat, London, July 24
Last year, when members of the international coalition against the Islamic State (ISIS) convened in Brussels, one important conclusion was made: Turkey must put an end to the flow of foreign fighters into its territory. Unfortunately, such a decision was out - side the authority of the coalition – which included many member states, but not Turkey. Ankara refused to attack targets in Syria until the allies would make an explicit commitment to remove [Syrian President] Bashar Al-Assad from power once the Islamic State has been weakened. Today, however, this position changed. The Turkish military has carried out numerous raids against Islamic State deep in Syrian territory. Turkish military bases were opened up to Western air forces in recent days, in order to carry out strikes against the Islamic State.
However, this change of heart is not guided by Turkish altruism. Rather, it is aimed at weakening Turkey’s Kurdish enemy. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is determined to prevent the formation of a Kurdish autonomous state in Syria, and is using the operation as a guise for Turkey to target Kurdish forces. By changing demographics on the ground and weakening the PKK, Turkey can ensure that a democratic resolution in the region – reached sometime in the future – will not allow for Kurdish autonomy in Syria. Turkish forces have even been accused of secretly providing Islamic State fighters with weapons to target Kurdish villages, all while striking them from the air. Ankara seems to be more willing to leave Assad in power; so long as Kurds in Syria don’t follow their counterparts in Iraq, and form an autonomous region. It quickly adopted the mantra of “the enemy of my enemy is my friend.”
– Daud al-Shiryan
Will France follow the "Tunisian model”?
Al-Nahar, Lebanon, July 25 The Tunisian government recently began cracking down on mosques in the country, following last month’s terror attack in the city of Sousse, where a masked man gunned down 38 tourists. Across the Mediterranean, it seems, the French government carefully observed the “Tunisian model,” and recently announced that it will shut down 80 mosques operating without permits. Granted, the idea of shutting down mosques is not new in France. Some 40 Muslim clerks were expelled from France since President Francois Holland stepped into office, including 12 imams earlier this year. However, the new Tunisian policy breaks a long-standing taboo in Europe: the sanctity of mosques and religious figures. France, home to the largest Muslim community in Europe, is expecting the number of mosques in the country to double by 2017. Recently, the Imam of the Grand Mosque in Paris suggested turning unused churches into mosques, in order to accommodate the Muslims’ growing needs.
Expectedly, this proposal was met with a strong public backlash; including from former president Nicolas Sarkozy. The fact that a Muslim government decided to act against the holy sites of its own people is likely to change Europe’s attitude towards Muslims. It sets a precedent that allows European governments – in France and elsewhere – to target religious figures in sites if it believes they are dangerous or illegitimate. With religious tensions already at an all-time high in Europe, it is highly unlikely that such a policy, if im - plemented, will be met unchallenged. The Tunisian model might prove to be a milestone in Europe’s attitude towards its every-growing Muslim minority.
– Jihad al-Zayen
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