Saturday, 17 January 2015

JIHADI Women joining Islamic State


SUMMARY:
The phenomenon of Western women joining Islamic State clearly demonstrates that IS’s propaganda holds appeal among a certain segment of disaffected female youth.

By: KANWAL ABIDI   *Journalist & Political Analyst 

Question for all of you to think???

According to recent statistics, around two hundred European women have travelled to Iraq and Syria to join IS. In North America, the number is substantially lower.
For many Westerners, it is difficult to understand this phenomenon. After all, why would women – living in free and democratic countries – voluntarily join ranks with a barbaric militant group that deliberately represses them?

DETAILED ACCOUNT:

In recent months, Western media has given extensive coverage to the Islamic State (IS), the Islamist group that has claimed to establish a Caliphate, an Islamic political entity, in parts of Iraq and Syria.
The reportage, for the most part, has focused on sensational aspects of the armed conflict between IS and the US-led coalition combating the group.

"Age of the Caliphs", map published by the CIA in 1993, from a Norman B. Leventhal Map Center collection
“Age of the Caliphs”, map published by the CIA in 1993, from a Norman B. Leventhal Map Center collection

On a daily basis, stories about airstrikes, suicide bombings, mass executions, and other grisly content inundate newscasts, columns, blogs, and social media.
Amidst the mania of the raging conflict, however, a worrying trend has emerged from Western countries, many of which are currently fighting IS.
What is the cause of this alarm? Not only have many men left to join IS, some women have also signed up, thereby causing great anxiety for Western governments.
According to recent statistics, around two hundred European women have travelled to Iraq and Syria to join IS. In North America, the number is substantially lower.
For many Westerners, it is difficult to understand this phenomenon. After all, why would women – living in free and democratic countries – voluntarily join ranks with a barbaric militant group that deliberately represses them?
To understand their motivations, we must investigate and analyze the psychological and sociological factors that inform their decision-making. This can help policy makers and stakeholders work to prevent the foreseeable radicalization of Western women and to counteract IS’s rapidly expanding and highly effective recruitment drive.
The first step to grasping their mindsets is to create a basic profile. Profiles, though totalizing and simplistic, make it easier to pinpoint where these women’s motivations arise from.
A majority of these women come from first generation immigrant families and are typically visible minorities from Muslim countries. They tend to be young, 18 to 25 years old,[1] and have some post-secondary education. Moreover, many of the women tend to be socially isolated and depressed.

Motivational Factors:
So this is the kind of Western woman who is attracted to IS.  Now what motivates her?
For most Western women who join IS, religious ideology is the primary motivator. These women consider Western laws as immoral contradictions of the teachings of Islam. A Canadian member of IS, Umm Haritha, for example, claims that she joined the group because she was inspired by a desire to “Live a life of honor” under the Sharia (Islamic law) rather than the laws of the “Kuffar,” or unbelievers.[2]l
A desire to live a purposeful life and fight for a cause is another inducement for Western women. Many of them suffer form a lack of purpose in their daily lives. Zainab Salbi, founder of Women for Women International, believes that IS effectively exploits their yearning for a cause and gives “them a sense of purpose.”[3] Many of these women are taught that Islam was once a glorious religion, which for the past few centuries has been defeated by foreigners– especially western powers. IS promises them that, by joining, they can help restore Islam to its previous glory and establish a Caliphate.

Jihadi Brides:
Also, many more join IS to marry male Jihadists. Women in this category typically have romantic notions about marrying a “real” man fighting for Islam and the establishment of a Caliphate. IS depicts marriage not only as a religious duty, but as a vehicle to an enriching life of romance and social status as a “Jihadi bride.” 

According Dounia Bouzar, a French anthropologist and Founder of the Center for the Prevention of Sectarian Excesses, IS employs “a mix of indoctrination and seduction”[4] to reel Western women in their clan".
Lastly, the newly claimed Caliphate offers various opportunities for employment and social responsibility to women. Since the founding of the Islamic State in summer of 2014, IS has invited women to migrate to Iraq and Syria in order to provide a range of services. In some areas under IS control, there are women working as doctors, nurses, police officers, teachers, and propagandists. For many Western women who are alienated from the employment market and society because of their faith or ethnicity, the Caliphate presents an opportunity to make a useful contribution in society.
The phenomenon of Western women joining IS clearly demonstrates that IS’s propaganda holds appeal among a certain segment of disaffected female youth.
Given their youth, they are susceptible to emotionally charged propaganda. IS’s propaganda is very adept at putting a positive spin to life in the newly formed Islamic State. It lures Western women by highlighting their religious duty to undertake a humanitarian and Islamic cause,[5] by giving them a central role in shaping the destiny of the Islamic State, and imbuing the current conflict with seductive notions of romance and the promise of a stable married life.

Psychology of Jihadi Women:
The phenomenon also illustrates the falsity of the West’s assumptions about human rationality and gender psychology. These women’s decision to join IS shows that some women consider a life under patriarchal norms as a vehicle for emancipation and fulfillment of their fullest potential.

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CONCUSION:

Islamic State exploiting the psyche of Western Women:

In the end, the actions of these female Jihads reflects a wide range of contextual factors: ubiquitous religio-social tensions in western countries, the complex and often overlapping motives of female jihadis, and IS’s successful exploitation of these female’s deep-rooted grievances.

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Written BY:         Journalist / Political Analyst 

KANWAL ABIDI 

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