Responding to the ideology of Daesh

Sent On: 
Thu, 2015-12-17
Newsletter Number: 

Responding to the ideology of Daesh


Please do not forget to make a donation for our work!!


In the previous two newsletters we asked you to donate to our work for dialogue in Egypt. The Center for Arab West Understanding has become Egypt’s largest internship provider and makes it possible to better understand Egyptian culture through visits to locations that practically no one else can bring people to. The Center has also a large network of connections that are used to encourage people to engage in dialogue, understanding why people think as they do and respond to claims that do not contribute to people with different beliefs and convictions living in peace together.


We are very grateful that Prof. Achterhuis allowed Arab-West Report to translate his lecture on confronting Daash ideology and publish this in Arab-West Report. We are equally grateful for AWR reader Maya Williamson to translate this lecture from Dutch into English.


Much work of the Center for Arab-West Understanding is carried out by volunteers but our network cannot be used if our office in Cairo would not exist. We also cannot do our work of building towards mutual understanding without a database with website. Maintaining this costs money and thus needs your support as we have written in our previous two newsletters. Your donations are in particular now of great importance since we have worked on a most necessary upgrade of our websites this year which has resulted in a deficit of 8191 Euro which is very large for a small NGO as ours. Thus please donate now. We can provide donation certificates if you would wish so and beautiful gifts from Egypt for any gift of over 300 Euro. Please visit the donation page of the Arab-West Foundation.


The violence of Daash is not specifically Islamic as many people believe


Since Daash or the so-called Islamic state (called “so-called” because the great majority of Muslims does not believe their behavior to be reflecting Islamic teaching) made headlines when they conquered parts of Iraq and Syria they have attracted around 25.000 young Muslims worldwide to join them.


They are prepared to engage in great violence as was seen with the recent attacks in Paris (France), Beirut (Lebanon) and San Bernardino (USA).


The violence of Daash is not a problem for non-Muslims only. It is deeply embarrassing for the great majority of Muslims since Daash is claiming it commits this violence because of their understanding of Islam.  


One of the biggest mistakes many non-Muslims make is in believing that Daash is unique to Islam. It has caused fear of Islam and attacks on innocent Muslims which has been further inflamed by US Presidential candidate Donald Trump. Saudi Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal rightly called Trump “a disgrace not only to the GOP [the Republican Party] but to all America. Withdraw from the US presidential race as you will never win,” Alwaleed wrote on his twitter account.


Dutch philosopher Prof. Dr. Hans Achterhuis showed in his Menno Simons Lecture of November 1, 2014 that Anabaptist Christians have committed similar violence in the 16th century. This is centuries ago but the mechanisms that stir the flames are not so different despite the differences of centuries.



Just as Daash does today the Anabaptists in the 16th century created their own utopian city state that soon turned out not to be so utopian. They massively killed those who did not followed their teachings, just as Daash does today. Just as the armies surrounding the Anabaptist state gave defectors no chance to flee and thus they were forced to stay in a state that was killing and murdering because they believed this would bring the end of times closer so the nations opposing Daash do not make it possible for volunteers who joined Daash to step out and just as in the 16th century Anabaptist city state they have no choice but fighting to death.


But the Anabaptist city state was conquered and surviving Anabaptist under the leadership of Menno Simons turned away from violence. The church that developed out of these horrors became a strong advocate against violence of all kind. We hope and pray for a similar development with the radicals of Daash.

Please read the translation of Prof. Achterhuis’ lecture here.


Please do not forget to donate to our work


We are truly struggling to make ends meet and would appreciate your contributions to either the Arab-West Foundation in the Netherlands (for donations outside Egypt) or the Center for Arab-West Understanding (for donations inside Egypt).









Koen Vliegenthart,                                              Sawsan Gabra Ayoub Khalil,

Chairman Arab-West Foundation,              Chair Center for Arab-West Understanding,

The Netherlands                                                                     Egypt