Friday, April 29, 2016

The attraction that ISIS hold for Muslims in the West

Janith had written something on this subject that prompted me to put down a few thoughts. Its a very complex question that I have been puzzling over for some time.

What would lead people to turn violently against societies in which they live?

I have not had time to think through everything but I jotted a list of what I believe are the factors that lead to the phenomenon:


  1. A sense of alienation/isolation from the society where they live, brought about by (possibly)  discrimination or an inferiority complex.
  2. This leads to a search for a sense of identity or security, which in turn takes them to their religious roots in Islam.
  3. The austere, extreme form of Wahabi Islam is extensively promoted by the Saudi's and through sheer expenditure of funds appears to have taken over the mainstream. The Islam that people turn to is not the traditional, tolerant version but the ascetic and extreme one.
  4. The teaching of a distorted version of Islam, leads to further suspicion of all things unIslamic/Western. Does this promote further isolation ? People mixing mainly with other muslims and not other communities, worsens the cycle.  
  5. Religious teaching based on respect for authority, emphasizing obedience and conformity, discourage independent thought and make communities more vulnerable to manipulation.
  6. Frustration with their lives, due to limited of job opportunities or the need to rebel against a host of perceived injustices.
  7. Policy on Israel serves as a lightening rod - the injustices against the Palestinians are closely identified with and seen as proof of a general anti-muslim sentiment in the West. 
Some of those attracted to ISIS, might have, under more normal circumstances become vagrants, vandals or petty criminals. 

I think there have been parallels before, in the US. The attraction of blacks to Islam from the 1930's was driven by similar forces; as was the attraction to communism, during the same period.

The difference in that instance was that the people so attracted were not subject to manipulation that turned them violently against wider society.

The solution then, is to ensure that these people are gainfully employed. Unfortunately the recession in Europe has left many unemployed. The wave black turning to Islam and communism waned as opportunities opened up.

People busy with holding down a job, paying a mortgage and bringing up families have little time to spend on violent rebellion against society.

Just a few thoughts, still trying to get my head around this, comments welcome.

Updated 1st May 2016


2 comments:

Janith Leanage said...

Interesting post. I think a lot of the 'alienation' (in mainland Europe, particularly France) stems from the lack of opportunities for immigrant communities and being forced to live in 'ghettos'. For example can the riots of '05 and the attacks 10 years later be seen as unrelated events, or symptoms of the same problem.

Jack Point said...

Yes, think you are quite right on this.

Thanks for stopping by.