‘The State’ – Islamic State Drama Showed How Faith Is Twisted to Develop a Cult

‘The State’ was shown over 4 nights. The work of Peter Kosminsky, it is a harrowing insight into how faith is used and manipulated to create a framework of deadly destruction and intimidation and it also highlights the naivety of people caught up in a belief that the ‘Caliphate’ is finally here.

‘The State’ highlights a number of things which includes demonstrating how young people are manipulated and how for some, the journey ultimately leads to violence and a brutal death. For others, it shows a manipulation of their ‘ideals’ that they believe will be reached through groups like the Islamic State and which lead nowhere but to the brutalisation of others. Yet, the show also highlights something of importance – the chaos that has bred groups like IS in the Middle East and how within chaos, groups that promote nihilism and fear, can take root.

The show makes uncomfortable viewing. It is uncomfortable since it shows how faith can be manipulated, decontextualised and made devoid of any human spirit. It also shows how easy it is for people to be sucked into a cult, the cult of IS murder and death that was so evident in the show.

Finally, the ending where Shakira Boothe returns to the UK with her soon, Isaac, only to be detained, points to one single over-arching conclusion. However much Shakira tried to protect Isaac from harm, in the end, by taking him to the so-called Islamic State, she had put them both directly in danger. The ending where the intelligence officer says that she has been a bad mother sums up the reality. Any parent putting their child in direct danger, is in effect, neglecting their parenting duties and giving their children a potential death sentence. ‘The State’ was therefore a welcome addition to the ongoing public discussions around extremism.