“ISIS”, As an Alternative

By: Mohammad Aburumman

تم نشره في Thu 9 June / Jun 2016. 07:46 PM - آخر تعديل في Thu 9 June / Jun 2016. 07:46 PM
  • Mohammad Aburumman

There has been extensive academic debate, and quite the political argument, on socio-economic factors —like poverty and unemployment— and their relation to extremism and terrorism.

Both sides of the argument provide their hypotheses and evidence; those who connect poverty to extremism, point out to the regions where this culture is predominant and currents of ilk arise, and they are —for a fact— mostly poor or marginalised area demographics.

On the other hand, those persistent on revoking this causality, the direct positive relationship; find their own contrary evidence on instances of extremism in Arab Gulf countries, and middle class segments of society in other Arab states; doctors, engineers, university students, and even from the upper-middle class segments. Recent events with family and relatives of MPs and families well off, economically, in Jordan; for example.

We spoke previously about the stereotypical perception of ISIS-ilk and Jihadists in general; poverty, unemployment, and low educational status, no longer fit the reality of these currents socially today, at least in Jordan. There is an evident infiltration of the middle and educated classes, as well as youths with no previous records of affiliation with Salafi Jihadism, joining extremist and terrorist groups.

Putting aside the economic factor, as important and crucial as it may be, the political and cultural condition, on another note, play an equally vital and parallel part; the growing sense of marginalisation, and the systemic weakening of the youth’s ability to integrate by Arab political regimes, pushes youth to consider other alternatives, coupled with the precursor question of identity, on every level; albeit it religious, societal, or political. A vast segment of youths does not identify with the State or society in general. Those will, most certainly, look for alternatives.

This alternative to us, spectators; would seem nihilistically chaotic, bloody and pointless. But to a considerable segment of youth in their early 20’s, immersed in utopic conceptions of the “Islamic State”, to exert heavenly justice, with our selective history curriculums and educational courses, fertilising a collective imagination woven around a “lost utopia”; these fertile conceptions, although unrealistic, grow tempting to youths thirsting for justice, a sense of belonging, and meaning.

Strangely enough, ISIS were capable of figuring all that out, and playing tunes to match their beat; the establishment of the Sharia law and the resurgence of the Islamic Caliphate, clicked instantaneously with these fertile conceptions. They now have a project to pursue; one that would put an end to the identity crisis and exact justice and equality. Not to mention the dream of power in the era of Arab deterioration.

The videos published by the Organisation recently, in whole; spell out this message. The clip “From Humiliation to Dignity”, talks about African immigrants to Libya; the project of the Islamic State became their promised dream and goal; their purpose. Another video, “So that His Light May Conclude”, on the reign of Saladin in Iraq, also talks about the establishment of God’s legislation (Sharia).

In this depth and perspective, ISIS provides thousands of youths with an Alternative. We are not before a simple phenomenon. On the contrary, ISIS is a complex, illusive phenom; outside of the reality of the era and its time.

Facing up to such a project requires of us realistic, tangible discourses, not speeches; that ensure the integration of citizenry, instead of marginalising them, and on attracting youth and filling up their spare times, implementing legal equality, and engaging in the battle for interpretation through education, along with implementable, real plans to address the issue of unemployment… etc.