Wednesday, January 13th 2016
About the United Kingdom, Adam Deen of the Quilliam Foundationwrote, “Often mosques are considered hotbeds for extremism, but this is inaccurate. . . . It’s at universities where the exposure to intolerant and unethical theological ideas happens.” He provided details in a January 13, 2016, article, “Isis: Pied piper of Islamic extremism,” on the Foundation’s website. Here are some key features of the environment for Muslim students on British campuses:
- . . . the Isil propaganda machine cleverly and effectively taps into an already existing theological world view within young Muslim minds.
- For the last twenty years I’ve witnessed the spreading of two toxic elements running amok in the West. One is Wahhabism, heavily pushed by Saudi Arabia via its preachers, sponsorship programs, mosque funding and book stores. Running parallel is a broader ideology of Islamism, a politicised Islam seeking to impose one version of Sharia on its citizens.
- Hatred for “decadent” Western society, which is diametrically opposed to their version of Islamic values, and yearning for an Islamic state enabling one to practice an unadulterated pure Islam, has been the stock in trade of those who currently dominate the activist space.
- The bulk of this activism exists on university campuses. Often mosques are considered hotbeds for extremism, but this is inaccurate. Mosques are run by a generation who are in most cases out of touch with the youth. It’s at universities where the exposure to intolerant and unethical theological ideas happens.
- The founder of Wahabism was vehemently schismatic. Bin Abd al-Wahhab sought to rid Islam of what he deemed “corruptions”, opposing mysticism, rationalism and Shiism. If a Muslim wasn’t a “true believer” then they were deemed an apostate according to his strict standards; such a judgment meant that they could be killed. Accordingly Wahhabi speakers deem Muslims who differ with Wahhabi thought as “deviants”, a euphemism for apostate.
- The West is seen as a decadent society devoid of any morality and is the root of all aliments of the world.
- Hizb ut-Tahrir literature speaks volumes: from phone hacking to the Jimmy Savile paedophilia scandal, are all blamed on Western values and the “corrupted, immoral system of liberal democracy” – without a hint of awareness about the fact that they themselves advocate so-called marriage to under-age girls.
- In similar vain to [Syed] Qutb, Islamists see Muslims who do not subscribe to their call for a totalitarian pseudo-Caliphate and support corporal punishments as lapsed Muslims,merely appeasing the West – again, despite the fact that the last Caliphate, that of the Ottomans, abandoned such legislation and progressed towards equal citizenship.
- When these views dominate university campuses and shut out other perspectives, it hurts Muslim students who are exploring their faith – sometimes for the first time. They are only exposed to a stark outlook on the world, an austere form of Islamic rules, and limits on their interaction with anyone who disagrees.
- This has an enormous impact on how some Muslim students interact with other Muslims with non-Muslims. It is the start of an “othering” process which ends with a sense of intolerance towards and disconnection from pluralistic British society. That in turn creates a deep sense of alienation: the West, with its “moral depravity”, becomes an alien environment where once it was considered a home.
- In summary, the groundwork of extremism, in practise and in thought, was laid many years ago. The notion of the West as the locus of moral vice and the puritannical schism from mainstream Islam I’ve seen across British universities are all hallmarks of the Isil message.
- Its propaganda taps into well-established if crude concepts and feelings, amplifying them with recruiting materials that are tremendously visceral in nature. At the same time, it conjures an idyllic vision of a Utopian society it can never meet in reality.
- In order to stop future recruits, we have to uproot the intellectual landscape that Isil taps into. Some have described what is playing out as the reverberations of a “clash of civilisations”. I don’t see this, but rather a clash between the civilised and the uncivilised. We need to expose Isil’s ideology by presenting it in its true light – a mix of modern totalitarianism and schismatic religion – and in all its ugliness.