‘I was one of those radical guys, IS laid it’s eyes on’ [Opinion by Celal Altunas]

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IS recruits youth and promised them paradise when they offer themselves for the caliphate. Would I’ve been younger, I would have believed them. I used to be a radical guy, without understanding/respect for unbelievers and other religions. No criticism on Islam or the prophet was acceptable. Islam was the only thing I hold on to.

Not only islamists have become radicalized, but the Western society too. Nobody is born radical. We learn norms and values through socialisation and our culture. We are like hardware and radicalised youth are infected with a virus – it’s too late for them mostly. But we can help the ‘doubtful’ ones.

We can take away factors that can lead to radicalisation: negative education advise, discrimination in the labour market, ethnic profiling, judicial inequality and the harsh polarizing discourse in politics and media. The caliphate seems to be the alternative for youth that is not good in sports, school or at work.

Some Muslim youth may feel caught in between Western society and their own cultural (Islamic) society. This makes them prone to recruiters. Is it really surprising that these youth becomes radicalised and even commits crimes?

I understand their feelings of powerlessness. I felt that way. But my parents kept talking to me, which helped me to open up to my cultural ‘inner’world and the western ‘outside’ world.

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