A Reply to Žižek: Reading Fundamentalism (or ISIS) Using Correct Cultural References

Burcu Kaya Erdem, Remzi Bilge


In his article “ISIS is a Disgrace to True Fundamentalism,” in which Žižek examines what triggers the violent reactions of Islam, he questions whether the terrorist fundamentalists are really fundamentalists or not. This paper is written with the justification that there is a very fundamental problem in terms of communication science in Žižek's evaluations of the communicative and operational attitudes of ISIS, evaluations that can be taken as a reference. Using the method of hermeneutic reading, this paper will discuss the comments Žižek makes without taking into consideration the local reference values of ISIS's fundamentalism which find their roots in the Islamic literature, starting with these questions: Can a person, or a point of view, that had been born and raised in a culture, read correctly another who is completely foreign to himself as a subject of an understanding that has evolved in its own conditions? Does not the state of failing to read correctly leads one face to face with the danger of falling into the trap of orientalism? This discussion will reveal that the greatest mistake one can do while dealing with Salafi terrorist groups that originated in the Middle East is to evaluate them within the same circle together with Buddhist and Christian fundamentalists as well as with other Muslims because the reference values and the vision of paradise of Salafi Islam do not resemble those of other religions. Contrary to Žižek's arguments, what makes a Salafi living in the Middle East anti-American is not his fight against his “own temptation” but his ambition of turning the world, of those who have established his own paradise that he wants to enter – and the American Dream – on earth, into hell. The American Dream that is being propagated through media has a role in the construction of this ambition as much as Salafi references. Finally, this paper proposes a way against the prophecy that “the children of Mount Olympus and of Mount Hira will never understand each other” (Meriç, 2013) and exemplifies this way through a hermeneutic reading of ISIS: of fulfilling one's intellectual responsibility through providing readings that do not exclude the will to know local cultural values...

DOI: 10.5901/mjss.2015.v6n3p786

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Mediterranean Journal of Social Sciences ISSN 2039-9340(Print) ISSN 2039-2117(Online)

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