On jihadi extremists, their goals and methods

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“ So it’s no surprise that both parties talk about security. However, the term itself is open to debate. People will point out that cows, clothes and cars kill more people every year than terrorism. Some say the threat we face from jihadi terrorism is unprecedented, while others say that, in historical terms, Europe is in a period of relative peace and that the larger dangers are from our own governments grabbing power in the wake of tragedy. Who’s right? Well … it’s complicated. Security expert Bruce Schneier describes security as both a reality and a feeling. The real risks of your children being the victims of a terror attack are low, but the odds don’t matter when it’s happening live on the news. Certainly, the raw number of attacks were higher in the 70s and 80s. That may be contributing to a greater sense of threat: if our baseline expectation of violence is minimal, attacks have more impact than if they are more regular (…) Westerners and Muslims, of course, are groups of significant overlap. They are not in opposition, but extremists on both sides want them to be. Professor Matthew Feldman, an expert in extremism at Teesside University, explains that an often overlooked impact of extremist activities is that they make the broader community feel forced to pick a side. Seen through this lens, the rush to demand that Muslims condemn the violence, setting up new loyalty tests for ordinary Muslim citizens, reinforces the Isis/English Defence League narrative that Islam cannot be accommodated within European culture (…) The Manchester bomber and the London Bridge attackers were atypical in historical terms but match a recent pattern of Isis terrorists. They weren’t religious extremists who became radicals, but radicals who became religious extremists. Isis is targeting young men who are already angry, disillusioned and rootless, and giving them a focus for that anger ”

Phil McDuff, ‘It’s complex: why the us-and-them approach to extremism won’t work’, The Guardian

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