The British-Muslim community have been left devastated by news of three schoolgirls leaving UK to travel to Turkey, and eventually join the recently declared "Islamic State" (ISIS/formerly ISIS) in Syria.
Shamima Begum, 15, Kadiza Sultana, 16, and an unidentified 15-year-old girl, are believed to be making their way towards joining the militant group. Their families have expressed anger, and outrage following revelation of their whereabouts.
They've been dubbed as 'Jihadi brides', but they're not. They're just school-kids. They could be anyone's child, groomed into believing they're joining a utopian movement with justifiable cause. They probably have little idea of the massacres, genocidal campaigns, sexual slavery and horrific crimes of ISIS.
On the downside, if they have an idea of the massacres that ISIS launches throughout Middle East, and still want to join that movement, they're in need of some sort of therapy/rehabilitation programme.
It's hard to understand where it went wrong for them. What we're in need of, ideally, is to ensure that these children fully comprehend the realities of ISIS. Do they have any idea of what life is like under ISIS? Imagine having to live with a complete stranger that barely speaks English (or even speaks English) that has multiple sex slaves, beheads people, leads gory warfare against civilians, arbitrarily kills those who opposes their movement.
British-Muslim parents have a responsibility to ensure that their children fully comprehend the brutal realities of ISIS. Schools, universities and all institutions in UK must raise awareness about the horrific crimes of ISIS, and more importantly although the Muslim leaders in UK are not silent, they should be more proactive in challenging ISIS through religious texts to confront their barbaric practices.
...And just to put things in perspective because they're so often blown out of proportion, there are thousands of British-Muslim teenagers and kids, living normal lives, with ordinary (and sometimes extraordinary) ambitions. These incidents should not be used to propagate a false narrative of the values that stem from the British-Muslim community, but as an opportunity for our communities to promote integration, and enhance awareness about what leads to grooming, radicalisation and other societal problems of our children.
Of course bigots would have us believe that Islam as a religion is at the core of the politicised ideologies that ISIS espouses, but if we choose to accept that narrative, it would lead us to believe that the entire 1.5 billion Muslim followers worldwide pose a security threat. Similarly, we can't dismiss radicalisation in UK on grounds of lack of integration and ostracisation of minorities. These two accounts are simplistic narratives that fail to resolve the ongoing struggles of UK's British-Muslim community.
In short, perhaps the so-called "radicalisation" of these schoolchildren has more to do with being groomed, or acting out to be a rebel, as opposed to well-thought-out politicised acts. The societal/familial background contribute just as much to their actions, something that is entirely overlooked in debates surrounding the radicalisation of British Muslim youth.