Thomas L. Friedman: ISIS is forcing many in the Middle East to acknowledge the reality of their repressive society

November 18, 2014 12:04 PM

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DUBAI — The Sept. 11 attacks, spearheaded by 19, mostly Saudi, young men in the name of Islam, ignited a debate in the Sunni Arab world about religion and how their societies could have produced such suicidal fanatics. But it was quickly choked off by denial, and by America’s failed invasion of Iraq. Well, conversations here in Dubai, one of the great Arab/Muslim crossroads, make it clear that the rise of the Islamic State, and its barbaric treatment of those who are against them — moderate Sunnis or Shiites, Christians, other minorities and women — has revived this central debate about “who are we?”

Though it has fallen off the front pages in recent weeks, the fighting in Kobani, a Syrian town on the Turkish border, has never let up. In recent days, local anti-ISIS forces have been pushing the militants of the Islamic State back. The fighting is brutal — it’s block by block, even house by house...

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