Éric Bellavance and Vivek Venkatesh
Between 2014 and 2016, a series of videos released by Daesh on the Internet show the looting, ransacking and destruction of vestiges of the Neo-Assyrian empire, which dominated the Middle East between the xth and the viith century BC. These videos which promotes a jihadist-Salafist ideology consist of recordings of the armed group destroying pre-Islamic relics and murdering alleged traitors. The visuals are accompanied by a cappella songs, known as anachids. This article focuses on the role of music in Assyrian propaganda, since, ironically, the Assyrians were the first to use music in their religious and military propaganda. In a second step, the musical and lyrical narratives that accompany these Daesh videos are analyzed to better understand the role this medium plays in specific theological discourses of the armed group. We use an interdisciplinary approach with theories developed in the fields of social psychology, marketing, consumer culture and postmodern philosophy. Our analyses provide insight into how the destruction of places belonging to the pre-Islamic past of modern Iraq, the hyper-violence associated with the murders of alleged traitors and the morbid consumption of dystopias interact with the concepts of religion, blasphemy and social policy.