Monday, July 18, 2005

Jihad Begins At Home

For most of us, there is a strange anamoly, a disconnect that arrives from the voices of "representatives" of the Muslim communities in the US. That disconnect comes from hearing an important spokesman for these groups condemn the attrocious bombings of civilians and then turn immediately to what sounds suspiciously as apologies or explanation or, worse yet, sympathy. It is the "but" that echos most loudly in our ears, not the condemnation.

I feel the same "but" echo in my own thoughts about the intentions or feelings of our Muslim communities.

In a recent interview with family members and friends of the bombers of London, I felt that same disconnect and wondered if anyone else noticed that, as the family members, particularly parents, continued to insist that their children did not hold extremist views and could not have done such a thing, the friends of these same young men were insisting that the men were angry about Iraq and one even expressed views that seemed to cheer their activity: blowing up innocents because they believe that "100,000" Iraqis had been killed by the Coalition.

As I read I realized that this was not some odd phenomenom, some parents being totally duped by their children. The fact is, these men continued to behave as they always had. Children can hold secrets from their parents, but it is often because the parents didn't want to see or did not find their behavior odd with in the context of their family. Neither did these families find it odd that their children, having grown in the west and having access to a mosque and other Islamic learning centers in England, would prefer to go to Pakistan to undertake their religious training. They did not find it odd even though they must know what Pakistan is like, that Islamists abound and that the Pakistani forces and Coalition forces are fighting on the borders with "extremists".

One would think, if you were from France and France was rife with shootings and bombings, however one might want your child to go back and enjoy the Sobborne and coffee on the Seine, would you send your child back to such a place? And if the Sobborne was noted as run with "radical revolutionaries" who were capturing whomever they felt was an "enemy" and sending them to the guillotine or convincing them to join their merry band of cutthroats, why would you?

One might subscribe to the theory that it is an act of pure naivety, imagining some pure place of your youth where life was simple and simple values could be taught. Even then, the claim of naivety must be replaced with the charge of ignorance. Willful even.

Let me be straight. I do not blame these parents for their children blowing up trains. I merely want to point out how the road to suicide bombings in the name of Allah is not some short stop at a madrassa with instant brain washing. Even in two months, this cannot be an accurate depiction of how suicide bombers and other jihadists, hoping to go to war, make this transition. It is not some sharp decline or assension to this ideology.

Like racism and other bigotries, the ideas that begin the path of jihadism begin at home, in the bosom of the family. A recent specialist in human psychology stated that "cults" are able to gain adherents by looking for people "in transition". This seems to be true based on some interviews. Still, in the midst of this "transitional" period, it is not a transition away from everything one ever believed, but a short step from the fence which they are walking with an idea that has been held for a while.

Where do these ideas come from? Do parents throw away their control completely and imagine that it occurred outside their sphere of influence?

I was not completely surprised to hear the parents say, "He holds no extremist views." Having traveled the web and forums, meeting many from different backgrounds and points of views, I believe I can honestly say that jihad begins at home. You see, what we would consider "extremists" they may find to be regular discourse. What they consider "extremist" is actually stating people should be killed. They don't imagine all the little things they say and do have already begun paving the path to jihad.

To Tanweer's parents, talk at the dinner table or around the TV about the terribleness of Iraqi civilian casualties at the hands of the coalition or at the hands of the mujihadeen "because the coalition is there" is not "extremist". Talk about the destruction of Fallujah as a "massacre of the undeserving civilians" is not extremist. Talk about coalition forces being in Arab/Muslim lands as "illegal" or "unwarranted" or "an insult" to Muslims is not "extremist". Talk about the alleged massacres of Palestinians at the hands of the "Jews" and dismissing the attacks of Palestinian homicide bombers against civilian Israelis as "what else can they do" is not extremist. Talk about the Jews being in control of governments, banking, media and purposefully insulting and inciting Muslims or planning Muslim destruction is not "extremist". Discussions theorizing the attacks on September 11 were perpetrated by the Mossad or that all the Jews stayed home that day because they knew or that the US did it to itself and then made up men like Osama bin Laden or Zarqawi to justify going to war, is not "extremist".

And, you can bet, in Muslim homes around the US and Europe these discussions go on. One would think that such theories and discussions go on in homes in Saudi Arabia or Syria or some other place where information is hoarded and controlled, not in a country where travel is not restricted, where information is free and open.

But it does. And more than the average non-Muslim American or European might be comfortable admitting to or finding out.

I would be remiss if I did not say that some of these very conversations go on in non-Muslim homes and between non-Muslim citizens of our countries. Many people are quick to point out Timothy McVeigh and Eric Randolph as examples of Christian American born bombers in order to mitigate the problems within the Muslim communities. One must wonder, when these are mentioned, if anyone would equate 169 Oklahomans with 3000 Americans and any number of different nationalities, races and religions destroyed by Islamic homicide bombers? Further, there are far less Timothy McVeighs and Eric Rudolphs than there are Hussains, Khans, Tanweers and even Lindsay Germaine.

So, as distasteful and sad as it must be to say it, it is within these communities, the daily dialogue and practices of our Muslim communities, that we must be most concerned with today. And, it is within the family that the first paving stone is laid on the road to Jihad.

What else was significant in the latest interviews was the information that these young men had become "more religious" in the last few years. What parent would ever normally see their children adhering more closely to their religion and their tenets of faith and culture ever see this as a possible threat? Most must feel happy that their children are not being seduced by materialism, sex, drugs and raunchy music. Of course, if this is happening outside of the family pervue without direct guidance by parents and discussions about what it means, entails or expectations of what it is used for it leaves children vulnerable to all sorts of hunters preying on the young in the moment that they are trying to find their feet and their way.

This happens in non-Muslim families, too. This is how cultists collect their followers. However, saying that it does not mean that Muslim families should not look into what their children are doing and who they are seeing or what they are saying.

To do less means that one might wake one day to find your children are strangers on a bus or a train, killing people in the name of false ideals and demagogues, leaving you but a picture on a security camera and parts of their bodies that can only be identified by shards of flesh and DNA verification.


Cigarette Smoking Man from the X-Files said...


Mixed Humor said...

Great thoughts and vision, lot's of valid points in there Kat.

DaKruser said...

I can only echo your words, in that parents must not delegate the job of parenting to ANYONE, be they teachers, holy men, or their children's peers. We are, indeed, responsible for what our children do...NOT the other way around.