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Alexander Knyazev: «Islamic State» is an image terrifying public conscience

Orientalist Alexander Knyazev. Photo: retina.news.mail.ru

When analyzing the “Islamic State” (IS) terrorist organization’s criminal actions broadcast via the media and the Internet, orientalist Alexander Knyazev says that the “caliphate” image resembles a Hollywood horror film rather than reality.  

“The first idea to arise when watching the video clips of DAISH (the Arab acronym for Dawlah al-Islamiyah fi al-Iraq wa al-Sham, the Islamic State of Iraq and Sham - EADaily editor’s note), with emotions put aside, is unnaturalness of what is happening on the screen,” Knyazev writes in an article “Should one be afraid of the DAISH?” published in the Kazakhstan-based “Time” public and political newspaper. “The unnaturalness is partially caused by the surrealistic content. But a scrutiny of the clips suggests that the sense of unnaturalness rests upon the elements of art direction, playwriting, acting and the general theatricality of those video clips.

Subsequently, the orientalist discloses the secrets of the terrorists’ media skills. “The al-Ḥayāt Media Center, which is engaged in awareness-building activities in DAISH, is one of the top-priority centers in the organization. These people are well aware of the advanced technologies and are using them. To one extent or another, we are falling victims to that information influence,” Knyazev says. He thinks the stylistics of the IS video clips is meant for the Hollywood movie consumers rather than people of keen intellect. So, the video clips are prepared for a target audience and the new militants are recruited from that very audience, he says.

“One of the reasons why the DAISH global threat image is so effectively imposed on our consciousness is the deliberately and intentionally mythologized nature of that structure. Unfortunately, a huge number of myths and misbeliefs related to the new-sprung “caliphate” are breeding in our information space rather than inside the DAISH. Furthermore, the analysis conducted by Russian authors, for instance, demonstrates that the number of Russian militants in the DAISH is not higher than the number of Russian devil-worshippers or breatharians given the intensive shrinkage of their population,” Knyazev says.

“Today the so-called “Islamic State” is no doubt one of the most widely-promoted international projects, which makes people living far beyond the Middle East think about their relatives' safety and their own safety. We live in the age of information and it is not a simple word combination. Our reality awareness mainly rests upon the principle – the reality is what the media say. We live in the world of total PR, so, it is probably the most important component of what is called globalization,” he says. In Knyazev's words, the reality scale is also the prerogative of the media resources. “This assumption should be perceived as the key methodological principle in assessment of “the Islamic State of Iraq and Levant”, or “DAISH”, as Kazakhstan's National Security Committee Chairman Nurtai Abykayev has recently suggested calling it, choosing the Arab-Persian acronym for that television and internet beast,” Knyazev says.

As regards the direct IS threats, Knyazev thinks it is not the affair of civilians. “The issue (of the IS terrorists – editor's note) should be tackled (and I hope it is being tackled) by those who are to do it in the call of duty. They are not weaker than the devil-worshippers or the breatharians. Nor are they weaker than the supporters of the new-sprung “caliphate”. I do not want to diminish the real threats of the organization, but one should also take into account the strong information component,” the orientalist says.

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