Since the summer of 2014 ISIS is a known notion: for some people attractive, for others repulsive. But a challenging question is: What makes ISIS so attractive, especially for young people from the so-called ‘West’? Why do young people run away from their home countries, some become first Muslim? What is in their eyes in their home country wrong?
An observation is that our world is disintegrating. There is no longer a binding common ideal for young people. It is all about money: you need money for your study, for buying a house and for living. Young people see that such a life is absorbed by money, there is for them nothing attractive. Young people miss inspiration. They can make fun with parties and so on, but for some of them this is not enough, not attractive.
What can young people do in order to change our world in a more attractive one? On personal level they can go to a so-called third world country and work for poor people, especially for children to offer them an opportunity for education and better health care. Many young people follow this route, but without so much publicity..
But a big problem remains. Destructive power is in hands of people with a lot of money and they decide what will happen in our world. Also killing civilians happens daily and other atrocities as a consequence of destructive power.
Another problem is that religion seems no longer to play a role in public life. Religions in the West fail to inspire young people.
What happens is that some young people search for meaning in their life and look to an oppressed, but clear religion like Islam. They discover that Islam is an inspiring religion for them. Also they look how to resist violence from dominating actors like the West. Combined looks ISIS attractive as an ideal to live and fight for.
But there is more going on. Looking at history they discover how colonial past of the West created big problems, especially in the Middle East. The British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw in a 2002 interview with The New Statesman, observed "A lot of the problems we are having to deal with now, I have to deal with now, are a consequence of our colonial past. ... The Balfour Declaration and the contradictory assurances which were being given to Palestinians in private at the same time as they were being given to the Israelis—again, an interesting history for us but not an entirely honourable one." Young people realize this. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sykes%E2%80%93Picot_Agreement
A picture of how Brittan and France divided the Middle East in 1916 is the following map:
ISIS wants to reshape the Middle East. This is its political component.
The religious component is to introduce the original Wahhabi Islam from the 18 century, see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wahhabism. It includes beheading of people they think that they deserve it.
In Western eyes this is awful, which is right. But when we look at the wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, Yemen and so on, we see that many civilians have been killed. In the West this is called collateral damage, an euphemism for killing of civilians.
Also drones are used to kill certain people without any form of trial. Is this Western civilization?
Another serious problem are the suicide bombings. Especially young people are abused to spread fear among ordinary civilians, but in fact it functions like death squads as were in for instance in El Salvador in the eighties, malformed by the School of Americas. See http://www.whale.to/b/kirsch.html; later it was renamed in the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation (WHINSEC). See http://www.soaw.org/about-the-soawhinsec/what-is-the-soawhinsec
How to solve these gigantic problems?
A possible way is to organize young people, who are fed up by all kind of violence, injustice and forms of terror, terrifying ordinary people. We can use the social media, but in a coordinated way. Arab Generation of Peace is a possible centre.
To run away from the problems is not a solution. Fighting alone against nowadays monsters doesn’t make sense. We have to organize ourselves. Together we can find a solution.
Louis Bohte ofm