The recent Vienna terrorist incident in which four people were killed was not the first of its kind, and the strangest thing is the series of successive violent incidents that took place this month by Muslim youths. This leads us to ask why Muslim youths prefer to use violence as a response?
Perhaps the information about the “Islamic State” organization, which until now became known as “ISIS” has the answer to this question, as it was abundant in the Arab and foreign intelligence services, but it remained scarce among analysts and research centers.
The assumptions about the organization, the number of its fighters, and the speed of its advance on the ground in Iraq and Syria are numerous, and evidence varies on the truth of each one of them.
There is almost an agreement that the fragmentation of the Iraqi political community into its ethnic, sectarian, and the demobilization of the Iraqi army, and the discriminatory policy followed in the last decade were all factors that helped the emergence and growth of “ISIS”.
There is a question that did not receive the attention it deserves in our Arab countries, and it met the attention of followers in European countries, but the answer to it baffled them. What drives young people to join ISIS? What is meant by the youth here is not those who established the organization, but rather those who hid to jihad sites from Iraq and Syria themselves, and from Arab countries, including Egypt, and from many European countries.
No studies were conducted or questionnaires were distributed to identify the demographic, economic and social characteristics of the youth who joined ISIS, but information was filtered that would enable us to present serious hypotheses regarding this accession.
The organization seems to have benefited during its inception from donations from affluent people in some Gulf countries, but it became a rich organization by exploiting its “successes” in promoting itself and in mobilizing more donations, then by seizing oil fields and imposing fees on economic activity in the areas it seized.
The resources of “ISIS” enabled it to pay generously to young people in Iraq and Syria who are deprived of job opportunities and sources of income due to conflict, bloody confrontations and discrimination in these two bereaved countries.
But why do young people from Egypt, Tunisia, or Algeria join an organization as bloody and nihilistic as ISIS? Unemployment, poverty, and social marginalization, and there is no doubt about that, are reasons for resentment against society and extremism in adopting simplistic and ideological ideas to explain these and other causes, and to prescribe treatment drugs from them.
The unemployed person, or the one who practices marginal work, or at a job level less than that prepared for him by his education, does not go directly to the ranks of violence and nihilism, but rather passes through the extremist and absolute ideas presented alone in the market of thought and generously funded for decades.
For many, long years, it has been reported that unemployment is a “time bomb,” especially the unemployment of the educated, and it is hoped that this has now become clearer.
However, unemployment and poverty alone are not sufficient to explain the youth’s joining of “ISIS.” There are young people from affluent social classes, who enjoy all the advantages of the age of scientific and technological progress, who have also joined ISIS while fighting in its ranks.
Man does not search in life for bread alone, and he is not satisfied with it. Youth, and non-youth, must participate in determining the direction of the society in which he lives and in managing its affairs.
Excluding youth from taking responsibility for their societies and participating in directing and managing them is an implicit encouragement for them to leave these societies, and even fight it, by joining ISIS and others like it,
In European countries, the question arose about the reasons for joining young people from Arab and Islamic immigration, or young people of pure European origin who converted to Islam, the reasons for joining ISIS and traveling to Iraq and Syria to “jihad” in them. These guys are from France, Germany, Britain, Spain and others.
The question is heightened by the fear that this European youth will return to their country afterwards, to be “ISIS” in each of them, practicing violence and fighting their societies. As is the case in Arab countries, the economic factor is important, but it is not sufficient for explanation.
The European continent is undergoing an undeniably prolonged economic crisis. However, the severity of this crisis varies between countries, and there is no indication that the number or percentage of ISIS members is higher in the case of countries most affected by the economic crisis or where the unemployment rate is significantly higher.
The economic crisis is one of the reasons for the rise of the forces of the European extreme right with its speech centered on xenophobia, hostility to immigration and immigration, and the spread of fear of Islam, all of which lead to the extremism of counter-extremism to those intended in this discourse, to the point of their departure from the society in which they live, and accordingly.
The economic crisis wasn’t revealed yet, just its revelations, makes it deeper ills? Did the reasons reach the failure of the educational, cultural, and social system in general in European countries to absorb the entire youth of Arab and Islamic origins, and even some young people of pure European origins?
Have the values and ideals of the social and political systems of these countries shaken? Has the disappearance of ideas and policies that were presented in the past by the communist and socialist parties lead to a consolidation of the ideas presented, so that true intellectual pluralism is no longer true, and if organizational pluralism remains?
Was the result of this the emergence of ethnic, cultural and racial distinctions, which are absolute in nature, as a substitute for economic and social distinctions, which inevitably led to a feeling of alienation among the minorities?
The reasons for joining ISIS and similar extremist organizations are not the same in Arab countries, on the one hand, and in European countries, on the other hand. Rather, they vary from one Arab country to another.
Also it differs from one social class to another. However, in addition to the decades-old open space for extremist ideas, there are two strings connecting these causes, namely the absence of pluralism and absolute ideas.
The multiplicity of ideas, their richness, the freedom to develop them, and the emphasis on their relative character, create the environment in which extremism sinks and its nihilistic effect dissolves.