Very delicately I assume. If you don’t understand the intentions, how do you explain the appeal?
Why does the Islamic State’s medieval religious ideals, one that seems bent on returning civilization to the seventh century, attract those from 2015? This was a question raised by a few of us on our recent trip. It became a topic of discussion.
Like lots of people worldwide, I’ve been obsessively following the news from Paris. Watching the horror unfold is something we all do, the very reaction the terrorists want. They understand us better than we do them. If we can’t understand them, how can we deal with this vast concern?
If governments can’t answer this question, how do they take appropriate action? I thought to research the question to find out more, but instead realized Western governments really don’t have a clue what is the draw that brings young people to a conviction of terrorism.
Some speculation is recruits are trying to find a morality, identity, right a wrong, find a call to something, or just do something meaningful with their lives. Lofty ideals. Some seek an escape from a confining, abusive or deploring home-life. Joining makes little sense to me considering the horrific means by which the extremists execute their jihad and the rules in which they live by. Others are attracted BY the very extreme nature of the acts they perform with impunity.
They use technology to navigate the modern world with ease, terrorizing in biblical proportion with calls of death to infidels. It is a version of back-street trash-talking methinks. To them, they are purifying the world by killing people I suppose. So who are these people from an insular community?
According to this article, “ISIS draws from that quarter or third of Muslims who are comfortable with using violent means to further or defend Islamic interests.” (source) I think the real fear is this group makes their appeal for Islamic followers everywhere, especially to a religious sect that already experiences a disconnect from other cultures. One third of Muslims is a big number. There are an awful lot of disenfranchised humans out there.
The world we live in can’t change Islam, nor is it our business to try. Other nations try to win over the Muslim people, compromise with Muslim communities, or state that this violence has nothing to do with Islam. But is it making any difference? There is a huge divide between our culture and theirs. While many Muslims assimilate into our Western way of life, by the article above, many don’t or can’t by their beliefs. That is all the extremists need to continue, all they need to spread the ideologies.
I was never expecting to come back from Europe with these views, never looking at a group of modern-day people with suspicion and fear. It only took seeing a number of young Syrian men banded together like a marauding, menacing gang to change my views. Sure they did nothing sinister, but they instilled fear with their loud, condescending actions and voice inflection. In this major, modern, clean city and all I could think was what are these men up to. I had no doubt they were not “good Muslims”.
Why do some Americans find Isis enticing? It saddens me that some liberal friends think we can just talk to them, give them a big hug and all be friends in the end. One friend expressed that only a small number of people were killed in Paris and more than that die on our American streets everyday. It was like these deaths were insignificant. This is apples to oranges. It is incomprehensible what one has to do with the other.
So why does this bother me so much? It is simple. The world is forever changed since this whole mess began. These fanatics want to destroy everything connected to our society. They burn and bomb our and their history. You can’t replace historical art, architecture, religious icons, and archaeological finds. They are wiping out cultural heritage, documentation of human history, destroying ancient artifacts and blowing up antiquities.
In architecture school we studied much of what these jihadist have destroyed. The 2000 year old Temple of Bel in Palmyra, Syria was a remarkable synthesis of ancient Near Eastern and Greco-Roman architecture. The 1,800 year old Arch of Triumph and the ancient Temple of Baal Shamin were reduced to rubble. The bearded fascists turned them to dust. So what will happen to all the great cathedrals and even mosques around the world? What will happen to the people who pray in them? Art creates empathy for others, or so it was said. In this case, I guess not.
Post written on the plane from Amsterdam. Flying seems to make things quite clear. It really is a hard rock to climb.