Sunday, March 16, 2008

"Wicked Jihad?"

I by accident found this interesting piece called "Wicked Jihad?" (or direct to the PDF) by Jamie Bartlett on the DEMOS website. I left a longish comment and, being a lazy git, I'll recycle the comment below rather than trying to think too much for one evening...
It's great to see this argument, as it should be one of those "well, Duh!" moments when someone states the incredibly obvious, yet still it isn't. Counter-terrorism commentators, researchers and students get all mixed up in, say, the relative importance to Qutbist Egyptian political Islamism versus Saudi-based Wahhabi fundamentalism (I know, I've been there), and totally miss the hip-hop.

In 1991(?) when Ice T released Cop Killer, there was discussion about gansta rap being a threat to national security, and with the LA riots of 1992 it didn't seem too much of leap. Partly as a result - rap, particularly it's not very "conscious" West Coast form, went global as the guaranteed-to-scare-your-mum teenage rebellion of choice. Compare it to UK indie of the same era - that might have vaguely embarrassed your mum but no more. It would seem obvious that "jihadi-chic" is now going to have the same sub-cultural pull on young men in Western Europe now. But the danger is always there that if the aesthetic is the attraction, some with darker intentions will exploit the young and stupid, just like some of those who listened to Snoop Dog and Ice Cube even in the suburbs really decided to live the gansta-life and stick a gun in the back of their baggy jeans and sell drugs.

Trying to react appropriately to genuine security threats whilst not over-reacting to youthful posturing (and by doing so actually beginning to really marginalize and perhaps radicalize) is the policy puzzle to solve.


Keefus said...

Good article. Two things in it reminded me of things I read years ago:

1. PJ O'Rourke pointing out that it's always more exciting to run around in the hills with an AK-47 than walk behind a plough.

2. Brian Keenan's observation of his (young, male) captors in Lebanon; how they parroted phrases from Hollywood action films, whilst waving their weapons around.

Next question - what to do about it?

Toby - Northern Light Blog said...

Keefus - great comment - cheers. Those examples will be remembered for future use!