Four Beheaded Children: a tragic example of ISIS’ terror tactics undermining Ideological Agenda

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By Brendan McGlone

Regardless of one’s individual beliefs, religion’s role in modern geopolitics cannot be denied. Currently, extremists who call themselves the Islamic State (ISIS) have formed a transnational institution, which uses terror to promote their ideological agenda. They have taken to publicized beheadings of nonviolent journalists and foreign aid workers alike, in order to demonstrate to the world of their religion’s power. However, this method of fear tactics as a way to attempt religious conformity undermines the very goal they hope to immorally achieve. They intend to appear powerful, but are seen only as cowards.

ISIS’ most recent terrorist showmanship was the beheading of four Christian children who could not accept the Islamic doctrine. The children remained steadfast to Jesus despite the imminent death ISIS threatened them with. All four of the children were under the age of 15, and all of them refused to abandon Jesus as their savior in favor of the prophet Muhammad. It is a horrific story, but one cannot help but admire the courage these children retained in the face of such fear.

Their bravery stands in stark contrast to the actions of the Islamic State. Forcing someone to accept doctrines that conflict with their own beliefs is unethical behavior, but doing so at the threat of death is criminal. The interesting aspect of belief systems like religion is that they are primarily evidential in one’s mind. Hypothetically, it would have been a physical simple task to verbally accept Muhammad, and remain loyal to Jesus in their soul. However, these children viewed such a concession as spiritual surrender, and they refused. The strength of their devotion is a sole source of light in this dark story.

The point of this piece is not to discredit one religion or praise another, but to examine how this instance shows both positive and negative extremes that religion – and their human subjects – are capable of. We are all looking for something bigger than ourselves to believe in, but it is in our individual quest for a higher power that we can learn to satisfy the soul, not something that can be forced upon us. Using violence to teach a religion of peace is a counterintuitive measure that not only will not work, but also will serve to spark more international condemnation of ISIS and discredit their cause.

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