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Saudi Youth Deceived into Jihad - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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Riyadh, Asharq Al-Awsat-Ahmed Al-Jeelan, a Care Program coordinator, believes there are 21 reasons why young men are deluded into violence. They became obvious to him after meeting with over 400 detainees held at various prisons in Saudi Arabia.

Chief among these reasons, in Al-Jeelan’s opinion, are statements made to incite the masses, which most young men see as a green light to go to a conflicted country of choice and kill. He also traces it back to ignorance of Islam, especially pertaining to issues such as rebellion against Muslim rulers, violating truces and treaties, harming ahl al-dhimma [non-Muslims who are to be protected by law], and the regulations accompanying such concepts as Jihad, and Takfir [exclusivism].

After holding sessions with a number of detainees, it became clear that some were not incited or misled, but rather went by their own will, and have admittedly ignored established religious texts and opted to follow very weak and rejected ones.

Al-Jeelan cites misleading fatwas [religious decrees] as a key factor, as well, as they provoke emotion among young men with no substantial knowledge of Islam. Religious extremism coupled with the rashness of youth are also believed to lead young men to such thought. Seditious sermons and fervent poetry, usually found in cassette shops in the Kingdom, should thus be regulated, he believes.

During the reign of the Taliban, a “takfir” trend exploded in Afghanistan. This, according to Al-Jeelan, brought about an ideological avalanche among young Saudi men. This is because Saudis were in Afghanistan in abundance, at the time, and they brought this thought back home with them to Saudi Arabia. Particularly after books such as “The Illuminating Evidence of the Kufr [disbelief] of the Saudi State” by: Issam al-Barqawi became popular.

A number of detainees, however, said that they were moved by speeches they saw on the news by the likes of Osama Bin Laden, says Al-Jeelan, so much that they took note of the countries he passionately named in his videos and decided to go there.

Al-Jeelan also places some of the blame on the lack of transparency when handling the issue of these young men. He believes it should openly be tackled in all media outlets, in order to raise awareness and warn our young men from the perils of this thought.

Academic failure, unemployment, poverty and boredom provide a fertile soil for such ideologies to prosper, believes Al-Jeelan. Also, the lack of youth clubs, and patriotic slogans to boost these young men’s sense of belonging, he says.

He also adds that this process [of inciting young men] comes in stages. First, they start by enraging them at the ruling elite by listing their shortcomings. Then, they repel them from the grand scholars and rulers of their country. Third, they declare the country and its rulers “Kafir” [unbelievers] on the basis of rejected standards and misinterpreted tenets of Islamic law. Until finally, they are ordered to carry out their bloody attacks for them.

Asharq Al-Awsat

Asharq Al-Awsat

Asharq Al-Awsat is the world’s premier pan-Arab daily newspaper, printed simultaneously each day on four continents in 14 cities. Launched in London in 1978, Asharq Al-Awsat has established itself as the decisive publication on pan-Arab and international affairs, offering its readers in-depth analysis and exclusive editorials, as well as the most comprehensive coverage of the entire Arab world.

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