There is nothing funny about the declaration of the ‘Caliphate’

And I am not laughing.


Members loyal to the ISIL wave ISIL flags as they drive around Raqqa

Photo via Reuters

Initially published in Turkish Hurriyet Daily

It may be amusing to some, but there is nothing funny about the declaration of the “Caliphate”  by the militant group the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). The rise of rejectionist groups is testimony to an older, deeper struggle that still haunts the region today. It would be folly to dismiss Islamist rejectionism as a fringe ideology. The new Caliphate may be “ahistorical,” but there is growing support for this much-indulging myth among some Muslim youth. After a century of poisonous politics in the Middle East, many prefer to escape to the past instead of facing the painful present.

Rejectionist radicals are not new in the Arab world. In 1970s Egypt, an agricultural engineer, Shukri Mustafa, who turned radical in prison in the 1960s, founded the first rejectionist group, Takfir-wal-Hijra (meaning “excommunication and exile”). In his book…

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