President Obama on James Foley, and Muslim Victims

August 20, 2014

The men who killed James Foley, the American journalist, belonged to the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, or ISIS, and claimed to be acting in the name of one of the great monotheistic religions of the world with the goal of establishing a caliphate.

But as Mr. Foley’s brutal beheading made clear,  ISIS, a Sunni Muslim group, practices a perverted, nihilistic version of Islam that does an extreme disservice to millions of Muslims, both Sunnis and Shiites, pursuing more peaceful and purposeful lives.

President Obama, who denounced the murder today from his vacation venue on Martha’s Vineyard, put it well when he said that ISIS “speaks for no religion. Their victims are overwhelmingly Muslim, and no faith teaches people to massacre innocents. No just god would stand for what they did yesterday and what they do every single day.”

His description of the group’s horrors was unsparing: “They have rampaged across cities and villages killing innocent, unarmed civilians in cowardly acts of violence. They abduct women and children and subject them to torture and rape and slavery. They have murdered Muslims, both Sunni and Shi’a, by the thousands. They target Christians and religious minorities, driving them from their homes, murdering them when they can, for no other reason than they practice a different religion. They declared their ambition to commit genocide against an ancient people,” the Yazidis.

The point that the extremist group’s victims are overwhelmingly Muslim is worth repeating.

But whatever the United States does in the future, ISIS and its extremist brethren will never be defeated if Muslims themselves don’t make it a priority.