There may be no more globally divisive question over the past few years than whether the Islamic State is representative of the world's global Muslim population. Speaking in Rome on Tuesday, U.S. Secretary of State John F. Kerry waded into this controversial debate yet again – and took a remarkably strong position for a Western leader.
"Daesh is in fact nothing more than a mixture of killers, of kidnappers, of criminals, of thugs, of adventurers, of smugglers and thieves," Kerry said. "And they are also above all apostates, people who have hijacked a great religion and lie about its real meaning and lie about its purpose and deceive people in order to fight for their purposes."
The use of the word "apostates" – a term to describe someone who renounces or abandons their religion – has raised eyebrows among observers. The description has been commonly used by extremist groups: The Islamic State has justified its attacks on Muslims with rhetoric that suggests these Muslims were apostates, which it views as a crime punishable by death.