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November 24, 2014

The West and Jihadism

By His Eminence Metropolitan Hierotheos
of Nafpaktos and Agiou Vlasiou

Many analysts of global jihadism, as it is manifested today, and scientists are engaged in the question as to why the young people who were born and raised in the West choose to become jihadists and go to Syria and Iraq and fight the war of the Islamic Movement. The question is: "How can you stem the flow of foreign jihadis making their way to Syria and Iraq?"

New Scientist hosts an article by Michael Bond that analyzes this issue ("Why Westerners are Driven to Join the Jihadist Fight", 10 September 2014).

Scott Atran argues: "The brainwashing theory is baloney." This is more about "young people hooking up with their friends and going on a glorious mission." Peter Neumann says: "A couple of them might go first, they stay in touch with each other, and one by one they pull their friends out there." Propaganda and "indoctrination" are therefore a myth, according to this view, since they are mostly influenced from their friends.

The researchers believe that most of the youth do not do this because they believe in the ideology of the jihadis, but there are other factors, such as: "a personal grievance, such as a crisis of identity, that opens them up to a new religious or political ideology; a sense that their cultural in-group is being persecuted; moral outrage at injustice (discrimination against a relative, for example); and access to a politically active network. While there is evidence that some have been influenced by hard-line clerics, this is rarely the principal driver."

The problem, then, is the climate prevailing in the Western world, a climate dominated by reason, injustice, without meaning and purpose of life.

I think, as I have argued in the past in my multi-page text titled "Islam and Western Christianity", that there are commonalities between Western Christianity and Islam in the matters of God, mysticism, social and mental eudemonism, the holy books as the word of God and of theocratic totalitarianism. Finally, Western Christianity, paradoxically, is closer to Islam in terms of ideology and methodology, rather than to Orthodoxy theology. That is why a Western Christian easier becomes a Muslim than an Orthodox Christian.

However, this phenomenon, where young people leave the peaceful situation in the West and they tread in areas of conflict in the Middle East, requires many studies. Something wrong exists in the West that fuels terrorist organizations. Young people without meaning in their lives seek a meaning even as criminals!

Source: Ekklesiastiki Paremvasi, "Δύση καί τζιχαντισμός", October 2014. Translated by John Sanidopoulos.