Since the so-called Islamic State (ISIS) declared a caliphate in June 2014, Muslim extremism has once again become a major topic in the media and therefore in the public mind. Islamophobic attacks have skyrocketed in the West in recent years, as many people tarnish over one and half billion Muslims with a single brush. In the distorted logic of the modern-day Islamophobe, all Muslims are intrinsically violent savages who are responsible for the actions of ISIS fighters, simply because ISIS is carrying out atrocities under the banner of Islam.
Purely due to the name of the group, most people in the West believe that all ISIS fighters are pious individuals with a deep understanding of the Muslim faith. When you actually analyse many of the ‘religious’ extremists who are fighting for ISIS however, a different picture emerges. A recent analysis conducted by the Associated Press of thousands of leaked documents from ISIS pertaining to their recruits from 2013 and 2014, shows that most ISIS fighters have only a very limited knowledge of the religion they are supposed to be fighting in the name of.