Many of us must still be wondering: “What just happened?” Yes, it happened, and we simply can’t undo it -- the way we can’t undo the fact that, our own people, our children have just carried out a gruesomely macabre killing spree.
In a single mission, they have slain 22 people in the most sick and cruel way. Their friends and families must be in agony now, wondering how they could have missed this transformation, but many of them may be recollecting clues that indicated that these kids were embarking on a depraved path.
You might’ve been taken aback with the sudden change of one of your well-off friends or relatives.
Maybe it began with the admiration and frequent referral of televised Islamic sermons by the televangelists like Zakir Naik, Anjem Chaudhury, or the great martyr Anwar Al Awlaki for that matter.
They might have found interest, not in the normative form of their religion, but in the radicalised Takfirist version of it, idolising Ibn Taimiyah and Hasan al Bannah.
The rhetoric and hate-speech are something -- which they find as ventilation of the inexplicable rage -- they hold within their hearts.
There might have been a transformation from Inshallah to In-Sha-Allah. From Mashallah to Allah Kareem. A loud Zazakallah Khairan.
If they are male, they might have grown a great fascination towards facial hair. Perhaps his pants suddenly found themselves at a specific length.
If they’re female, she might have started to grow intolerant towards women’s rights groups, claiming Islam serves the best interests for women. For peace, she might have started sporting the hijab.
Suddenly, they experienced television-induced self-discovery and introspection. They, with their anglophile linguistic profile, have had a revelation of religious puritanism.
Replacing Khoda Hafez with Allah Hafiz, they are out to emulsify the old with new and pure; they are prone to exclusivity!
There has been a successful infusion of a fire in them. The fire that is warm enough to transport them all the way to Syria or Iraq. This metamorphosis took place over decades. In a society where social and economic privilege is almost always at the cost of corruption and forgery, the impact surfaces in many folds. This is one of them.
Like the politically degenerated hooliganism, or intellectually corrupt middle-class, they, too, are the products of our imbalanced and unjust social eco-system.
Probably, stricken hard by cognitive dissonance, they are the ones who felt bad about the state of affairs, and have been looking for a cocoon to hide.
Perhaps it’s their frustration with life, out of the affluence that they know their parents earned unethically.
Or it is the impulse, derived out of desperation, to overthrow a life without challenges. They want adventure endorsed with divine bestowment.
When such is the case, it is very easy for the recruiters, placed in the universities, or particular circles where students with such background go, to bait them.
For the ones who belong to the expat Bengali groups in Europe and North America, the case is different. They are a generation torn apart due to the onus of multiple identity crises.
Their Bengali identity, Muslim identity, and the identity as representatives of migrant families integrating in the mainstream of the foreign society tend to clash.
Parents are wary when raising their children as good Muslims, and protecting them from the vices of western society. Islamic education, in both formal and non-formal ways, exposes them to the hate campaign against the West and their allies.
They are taught to hate the western ways of life and the very countries they live in.
Perhaps it’s their frustration with life, out of the affluence that they know their parents earned unethically
A sense of dichotomy is thus developed. As they grow up, some get rid of it, some are never liberated. They blame the very society that they live in, and the country for their miserable states of mind.
It is augmented by the sense of injustice in the Muslim worlds; from Palestine to Iraq, to Afghanistan. They, with their unrest hearts, feel akin to their persecuted Ummah fraternity across the globe.
A point to note is that, unlike the Talibans of Pakistan or Afghanistan, they are not from the social backwaters of their countries. They are not madrasa educated, poverty-stricken angry men and women. They are people educated in the West, from well-to-do societies.
For the expat Bengalis, the parents must decide and act as to how they should groom and raise their children.
Over-enthusiasm in religious culture and education, and their aspiration to secure a bright future in the foreign society don’t really go hand in hand. Such dichotomy is the last thing that they should instill in their children.
They must foresee the consequences when they think of taking their children to places where clerics and community jihadists preach hatred. If such speeches transform the thoughts and wills of their children, they’ll have none other than themselves to blame.
On the other hand, inside Bangladesh, since political and social reforms are way out of our hands, we can only think of social and legal vigilance.
Intelligence outfits and the law enforcers must check and stop the agents with ulterior agenda to recruit jihadists form our society.
Parents and relatives must follow up the movement and associations of their children, and must be prudent enough to know when and how to intervene. λ