President Obama's infamous proclamation that ISIS (the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria) is "not Islamic" was received sympathetically within the ranks of Middle East studies. While many scholars of Islam and the Middle East have condemned ISIS's heinous actions, a stubborn refusal to acknowledge their theological underpinnings lingers. Those who do concede ISIS's Islamic supremacism are branded "Islamphobes." Others attribute ISIS's rampage of mass murder, beheadings, rape, slavery, and strict Sharia law in pursuit of a caliphate to Western-inspired "grievances" or "root causes."
John Esposito, director of the Prince Alwaleed bin Talal Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding at Georgetown University, is at the forefront of such obfuscation. Disregarding ISIS's adherence to Quranic literalism, Esposito declared:
I do not think that this is a very Islamic vision at all. . . . Theirs is a kind of religion that is extraordinarily full of violence and abuse that is not in accordance with the Quran, the traditions of the Prophet or even with Islamic Law.