A great man said once: “Today I choose to feel life, not to deny humanity but to embrace it”.
A few weeks ago when US forces bombed Libya, a boy’s name appeared among the killed ISIS soldiers. A boy I used to go to class with. A weird pain took over my entire body, an anger that kept me awake for days, and what hurt me even more was that I was helpless. A lot of forgotten memories kept flowing back in to my head, memories that helped in shaping me once.
His name was Abdelsamea, an old friend of mine, with whom I went to school; he used to be a sweet little boy, he wasn’t so much into school so he dropped out after ninth grade and no direct contact was held between us anymore. A few years later, when I moved to the Capital to go to college my brother came from the South to visit me, on the phone he told me to cook dinner as he is bringing some friends with him, I did as he said.
Later when he arrived the person who used to be that little boy was with him, we talked and discussed a few topics and I found out that the same innocent little boy is still there. That was the last time I saw him. Few months ago, my mom called me crying to tell me that three boys from our city joined ISIS, she started naming them and Abdelsamea was one of them. I couldn’t believe what happened, he wasn’t that religious, and he didn’t believe in wars and violence, so I picked up the phone and I called my brother to ask him about his friend, I had just one question: why would he do that?
My brother told me that he couldn’t bare his life any more, that he was feeling dead anyway, which life was he living with no job, no future and no dignity? As he said, death would be much better than that life. Is that even possible? Someone is going to fight for something he didn’t even believe in just because his life was empty? How could he forget about his family, his friends and even himself? Can anyone be that stupid? Unfortunately he was.
After coming to realize what happened, I came to find that “many young Muslims see no opportunities for themselves and do not feel they have control over their lives or a stake in their nation’s future. Such pessimism leads to disengagement.”[i] Therefor “we risk losing a generation of young Muslims to apathy and extremism.” The question that kept haunting me for a while after that was: what do we really mean by extremism? As well as which form is this extremism taking on today?
Wikipedia defines extremism as “driving (something) to the limit, to the extreme or the quality or state of being extreme, advocacy of extreme measures or views.” “A term that is mostly used in a political or religious sense, for an ideology that is considered (by the speaker or by some implied shared social consensus) to be far outside the (acceptable) mainstream attitudes of society.”
Moving to form such phenomenon today there is no better example than ISIS (the Islamic state in other words; is a Salafi jihadist militant group that follows an Islamic fundamentalist, Wahhabi doctrine of Sunni Islam).
However what concerns us here is what we can do in order to stop young minds from joining the movement, seeing as I can see no good reason to choose death over life even if it is an unfair one.
I thought that such empty words won’t have the impact I want to make, and I kept believing in that until I read somewhere that “words have energy and power with the ability to help and to heal,” so I decided to write about this story, maybe one day my words will make the change this world needs.
Finally I would like to say that this boy wasn’t the first and won’t be the last. Hundreds are joining the twenty first century killing machine, and there is no other way to stop them but through education, education is the only way to save those dead souls from choosing the darkness over the light.