HOLLYWOOD AS A PROPAGANDA TOOL - *By Salmaan Khan * *It shouldn’t come as a surprise if you’ve felt the slight sting of “patriotic duty” invoked during this current wave of big-budget ...
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Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?
ISIS, which formed in April 2013 and on June 30 changed its name to Islamic State, has captured broad swaths of Syria and Iraq and claims that it is establishing a caliphate in the region. It is the latest of several armed extremist Sunni groups to have systematically killed and threatened Iraq’s Chaldo-Assyrian Christians, Shia Shabaks and Turkmen, and Yazidis, labeling them crusaders, heretics, and devil-worshipers, respectively.
Iraq’s Christians are Assyrians, known as the Church of the East, or Chaldeans, an Eastern rite of the Catholic Church that broke away from the Assyrians. Yazidis, ethnically linked to Kurds, practice a 4,000-year-old religion that centers on the Peacock Angel. Shabaks have ethnic ties to Kurds, Turks, and Persians; the majority are Shia and the rest are Sunni. A majority of Turkmen, of Turkic ethnicity, are Sunni, and the rest are Shia.
These religious minority groups, concentrated in the Nineveh Plains surrounding Mosul, have been historically marginalized. Many of their communities are now flashpoints in the ISIS battle against Iraqi government forces. ISIS and its extremist Sunni precursors have largely targeted Shabaks and Turkmen who are Shia, not Sunni.
They kidnapped 30 local families and rang up the town's most influential citizens with a simple message about the hostages: "You know their destiny if you don't let us take over the town." Within hours, tribesmen and local leaders caved in to save the families. The black flag of the Sunni militants, who are bent on overthrowing the Shi'ite-led Iraqi government, was soon flying over government buildings and police stations in al-Alam.
Weeks later, only a few masked gunmen guard checkpoints surrounding al-Alam at night, so comfortable is the Islamic State in its control through fear. "One hundred percent of people are angry that the Islamic State is here but there is nothing we can do," said a scared resident who spoke by telephone on condition of anonymity.