Hi there! I’m glad you come.
The issue addressed here is mostly about ISLAMISM – a term you may or may not have heard of – which seems an increasing global trend obviously malicious, and a haunting attractor to scores of immigrant Muslim teenagers in Europe who are struggling in moral dilemmas.
This post on Catalyst Conference addresses primarily in the phenomenon of Muslim teenagers following their “moral impulse” and joining extremist groups in the name of “jihad”. This post concerns European, American, and Chinese audiences specifically, but all other groups of audiences are also invited to read this post as we all need to contribute to a systematic change.
In this post, I would like to paint a picture of Islamism, as a typical extremist ideology, and raise the public awareness about how we can work together to address it.
I would introduce the issues of Islamism within a “WHY, WHAT, HOW” model.
WHY SHOULD YOU CARE ?
If you are one of the second-generation Muslim immigrants born in Europe or America, this issue is obviously relevant to you.
But what about others? What do you have to do with all this if you are not a troubled Muslim?
If you are one of the the Non-Muslim peoples, it is very simple. Though it might seem that you are far from these troubles, you might be a perpetrator of the status quo and a victim of a potential “revenge” of the extremists, if they are not handled, or healed, properly. It’s not going to be good for you if you don’t care. You may want to do something about it before it affects you.
What’s more, if you are one of the people who are not familiar to the moral struggles the European Muslim teenagers are facing, I strongly encourage you to check out the speech from Deeyah Khan on the link below; she briefly examines the misfortunes these teenagers experiences.
WHAT IS THE ISSUE ?
It is very simple. Young Muslims in Europe, being desperate “broken people” who struggles to find a place while stuck in between the cultures of both their home and their country, are easily attracted to extremist organisations, and thus to carry out terrorist attacks to the rest of the world by which they feel resented, or at least misunderstood.
If you wish (you don’t have to, though), you may check out an interview by IBTimes UK to Sohail Ahmed, a onetime extremist who has also been a homosexual, that exemplifies the “broken people”: http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/my-de-radicalisation-story-life-after-considering-terrorism-1613883 ;
What Led to This Widespread Issue ?
- Domestic Violence in Muslim households – abusing is common in traditional Muslim families;
- Teachings from imams (preachers in mosques) that reject liberal interpretations of the Qur’an and indoctrinate Wahhabism – instead of a liberal approach to interpret the Qur’an, a fixed version is taught and believed; on a basis of no critical thinking on the values taught in mosques, extremism thrives;
- Discrimination and Alienation against Muslims (a.k.a. Islamophobia) practised by the Non-Muslims – deep-rooted anti-Muslim prejudice is common among the Westerners in Western societies;
- Preexisting extremist organisations that utilise teenagers’ moral dilemmas to recruit – these leaders of terrorist groups are experts in controlling the emotions of these fragile teenagers who are struggling in their family and country but invariably seeks meaning and purpose of life.
It is not hard to see that a numerous number of Muslim (and even non-Muslim) fighters has entered the field of terrorism. The chart attached [endnote] is an excerpt from a demographic report of ISIS in August 2016. In three distinct columns, this chart lists the countries with the most fighters for ISIS using three different metrics: “total number of ISIS fighters”, “ISIS fighters per capita”, and “ISIS fighters per their Muslim population” (Florida, 2016).
|Total fighters||Fighters per capita||Fighters per capita of Muslims|
|France||1,700||Libya||95||Trinidad and Tobago||616|
|Bosnia||330||Trinidad and Tobago||36||Australia||269|
It is not hard to see that European countries and former European-colonised territories have fostered more ISIS fighters from their Muslim communities than any other country. We have no reason not to infer that these people (presumably mostly teenagers) were so desperate with their lives that the only place to find some meaning of life would be a terrorist establishment. They have suffered too much pain (and probably lived in ignorance) that they urgently need to find a hope in anything – a compliment from a terrorist leader would be satisfactory enough, and worth sacrificing everything else.
It is getting clearer – the issue is that more and more people, mostly second-generation Muslim immigrant teenagers, are faithfully joining terrorist groups as a result of their great suffering in life. They’ve been painful and they want to exert suffering to the others, the untroubled lives of Westerners and Asians. This wasn’t their own choice, since they probably didn’t have any choice in life given their pressure from the family and discrimination across society; they only got to choose the most promising, hopeful future – to be an extremist and kill the unbelievers.
HOW CAN WE MAKE A CHANGE HAPPEN?
Solutions that are more practical:
- For everyone, learn critical thinking; refuse dogmatic doctrines; learn to accept different interpretations of your scriptures;
- You may take a look at how Manwar Ali ends up an activist as a former jihadi; he has critically reconsidered the meaning of “jihad”:
- For everyone, learn to tolerate one another; you may start with trying a friendlier conversation by asking their names;
- You may want to check out how Amal Kassir suggests us to do:
- For human rights lawyers, activists, artists, writers, and policymakers, please promote an egalitarian approach of ensuring basic human rights both jurisdictionally and culturally, in regard to domestic violence, police inefficiency, equal rights, etc. If you are yet a teenager and you might find it interesting to pursue one of the careers above, great!
In the end, by no means can these solutions resolve everything, but they could help to some extent. So try keeping up these solutions and make a more tolerant and peaceful world. As more people start to be aware, such issues, I believe, will be easier and easier to tackle.
Now I wish you to think through the main issue that I presented once again, and make a promise on how you are going to change something (the way you treated someone, the way you credulously believed in something, etc.); I want you to know that you will be a positive force putting peace forward by changing just a little bit (and certainly you don’t have to post it to your social media if you don’t want to) 😉
At last, thank you for your looking into my post.
Leave any comment if you wish to 🙂
OTHER HELPFUL LINKS
if you wish to know more about issues related to Islamism, you may check these webpages:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9nQdT8ec5tQ // a lecture on struggling through multiple identities;
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nRz6PBDHJqc // “where is the Muslim world”;
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_J5bDhMP9lQ // Interpretations of Qur’an regarding women’s rights;
http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2015/06/01/journey-to-jihad // a Belgian teenager’s journey to ISIS;
http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/my-de-radicalisation-story-life-after-considering-terrorism-1613883 // a life story of a second-generation Muslim immigrant in UK;
Florida, Richard. The Geography of Foreign ISIS Fighters. 10 Aug 2016. The Atlantic Monthly Group. Webpage. 27 April 2017. <http://www.citylab.com/politics/2016/08/foreign-fighters-isis/493622/>.