Why are young people getting involved in extremism?
প্রকাশিত হয়েছে : ৭:২৫:২৯,অপরাহ্ন ২৭ মার্চ ২০১৮
Farhana Islam Mahi
There was a time when, Joya Chowdhury, a British born Bangladeshi was involved in extremist or militant activities. She left for Syria where Islamic State (IS) was creating trouble in the society. She married a devoted member of IS and from the relationship they have children.
But realizing the reality of IS, she left IS and now she is living in Texas, USA. American magazine ‘the Atlantic’ has published the story of Joya Chowdhury describing the factors which caused her to join the IS.
Joya was brought up in London in a poor family background. Joya’s family migrated from Bangladesh. Joya a second-generation immigrant, fell prey to racism from the very beginning. Their family was not accepted by the locals. Locals would break the glasses of Joya’s house windows by throwing brickbats. Joya and her family had a feeling to be aliens. More specifically, after the attack on twin-towers in New York on 9 September 2011, such feelings of isolation became stronger. At the time of 9/11, Joya was 14 years old and she was a school student. The consequences of this incident shocked her and made her life difficult. Next day of the incident she talked to one of her friends about the matter and expressed her shock about such a terrible incident. Her friend asked her with suspicion that if she was really sorry for that. In the eyes of her friend, Joya seemed to be an offender because of Joya’s Muslim belief. Then she realized that though she is living in the society but still an outsider. 9/11 incident sowed the seeds of extremism in Joya.
Mubin Sheikh, a Pakistani origin Canadian, has returned from extremist life. In 1995, he visited Pakistan and there he struck with the idea that the way to bring about change in the world is by jihad. Since 1995 until 9/11 incident Mubin became more and more extreme.
There has been a tendency to be attracted by militancy among immigrants in various western countries. One of the causes that these immigrants are inclined towards militancy is the adverse situations in which they had to live in the host countries. In their new place of residence, they find it difficult to adopt themselves due to non-cooperative surroundings. They suffer from identity crisis. A kind of inferiority complex grows in their personality. They feel that there is no one close to them where they live. But the immigrants wanted to fulfill their dreams here in the host countries. They wanted to assimilate in the society so as to make this new land as their own. Many of these immigrants cannot endure the pressure of non-adoptability in the society. When a young man from an immigrant family suffers from the crisis of self-identity in the host countries, he goes back to his country of origin and falls prey to extremist organizations and he gets rebellious in the society he is living in. These organizations try to build up confidence in his mind that all around are enemies to him. He has to fight for freedom and to protest against discriminations using force. They open up the way of violence before this young confused man.
USA Institute of Peace came to the similar conclusion in 2010. The research found that the young people tend to involve in militancy in search of their identity. It was found in a survey conducted on two thousand and thirty-two foreign militants involved in Al-Qaeda that most of these militants involved in extremists/militant activities are actually in a struggle to find an identity for themselves. Measures should be taken to address this identity crisis in the youth so that the youth can be absorbed in the society rather to become tools for the extremist organizations. They should be given this confidence that they are not alone. The land where they are living in also belongs to them. However, in reality things are different. Rather than absorbing this youth into the society, the authorities are taking more strict and stringent measures against the youth especially Muslim youth. Consequences of such measures are not what the officials expect, and the youth is becoming more rebellious. Labelling all such terrorist activities on Muslims is also a dangerous thing. We should realize that militants have no country and no religion.
The attraction for getting connected to anything also attracts the young people to militancy. Militancy or extremism sometimes becomes attractive to them when they intend to show their power or make a change. Professor Randy Boram of University of South Florida, USA has highlighted it in his research conducted in 2004. He showed that young militants are joining extremist organizations from the attraction of joining in a ‘big’ incident for the first time in their life. The history of extremism in this would is not new. Humans were always involved in extremism by using religion, racism, nationalism and parasitism very tactfully for decades, though these have no connection with extremism. Extremist organizations use religion as weapon in their own interest. Young people are entrapped by them in good faith.
In youth, all young people cherish desires to make a change, to do something for the society and to protest injustice. If they see any injustice, their minds revolts. Extremist organizations tactfully use this part of young feeling. They create this idea in the minds of young people that Muslims are being treated unjustly in the world. They inspire them to protest it with violence by labeling it jihad. Rather than promoting the true teachings of Islam i.e., peace and tranquility, these extremist groups imbued extremism in their minds.
According to the expert in the subject of extremism, Professor B. Hofman, extremist organizations are attracting young people by asking them to protest injustice; and by conducting special campaign by creating this idea in the minds of young Muslims that the westerners are enemies to Islam. Therefore, the young Muslims, in their belief, though wrong, are fighting against the West to establish justice. The young never think that their actions of violence are wrong rather they think it is the right way to eliminate injustice. According to the extremism expert Professor Martha Crusho, young people resort to the way of violence to ‘punish injustice’.
Institute of Peace conducted a research on two thousand and thirty-two foreign extremists connected with Al-Qaeda. They have found that a part of young people involved in extremism are attracted by adventure or thrill. Five percent of them involved in extremism due to playing violent video games, reading adventurous games on ‘Jihad’ or by hearing about the stories of extremism. Most of them come from the wealthy families. In the opinion of Professor Randy Boram, they are coming in this way to avoid monotony of life.
Loneliness is another reason that the youth become extremists. In the western or modern way of living, family ties or bondage is getting loose. Parents are so busy with their work that they cannot spare time for their children. For a child, his family is the place where he can get shelter or refuge. Many children do not get chance to share their stories with their parents. Thus, their loneliness grows within them and they get attracted to extremist organizations because they are heard and engaged.
Failure in creating an environment of sports and healthy entertainment also contributes to spread extremism. Finding no opportunity for playing or healthy entertainment, the energetic youth tend to computers and internet. Uncontrolled and unchecked use of internet is more dangerous than any drug. Innocent youth get influence from the internet and is another reason in promoting extremism in the youth. Hence technology plays a big role to attract young people to extremism. Extremist organizations create interest about their activities in the minds of young people in various ways. At first, they move their emotions through pictures/videos on the internet. When it is done successfully, their work become easier. There comes a stage when internet becomes a ‘virtual Training Camp’ of extremism to these young people.
Lack of real knowledge about religion is also a cause for spreading extremism. Many people cannot differentiate between the right and the wrong due to lack of their knowledge about religion. Because of temporary attraction or being instigated by any evil force, they are engaged in activities which they think are allowed in the religion. They do not realize that their actions violate the basics of their religion.
No religion teaches violence. The main lesson of any religion is peace and to win the hearts of people by love. Extremist organizations are concealing this basic principle of religions for their own interest. And young folk are running towards that wrong way being engrossed with such fatal attractions created by extremism.
Farhana Islam Mahi: Grew up in Sylhet, Bangladesh. Currently live in Maidenhead, UK. Graduated from University of West London, and at present working in a charity organisation while studying part time in ACCA.