The Myth of online radicalisation

We are told by the media ad nauseam that homegrown terrorists are radicalised by watching videos online but how true is that narrative? Are videos really turning youth who love the West into Jihadists?

A COMMON myth about terrorism is that young Muslims are suddenly radicalised online by watching some extremist YouTube clips.

…As someone raised in a Muslim family and community, but now an atheist, this idea is false. Many Muslims are raised with an ambivalence to their host societies.

They learn to blame Australians for many of their problems from a young age.

The ambivalence begins socially, but can harden in a political direction.

Loving parents teach their kids to avoid social freedoms available to the mainstream, fearing corruption through drugs and sex.

It is no surprise that Islamic schools, with their sexual segregation, are the fastest growing segment of the independent school sector.

The strict limitations imposed, such as avoiding all socialising with non-Muslims, can build a sense of unbelonging at exactly the time identity and belonging is critical.

As young Muslims acquire abstract thinking and a more worldly outlook, the overwhelming message is that the problems of their ancestral lands are also caused by Western foreign powers, be it the invasion of Iraq or the arming of the mujahideen in Afghanistan.

…We can add a worrying propensity to absorb conspiracy theories regarding Jews, a view that a good woman is a well-covered one and negative attitudes towards gays, as multiple international surveys have illustrated.

Muslims find a sense of identity and solace through their religious practice but, underneath the hijab and beards, there can be a sense of opposition. This surfaces most commonly through accusations of racism and discrimination, beliefs that are magnified through support in sympathetic media and political circles.

For some, their religious markers of Muslim identity are a middle finger to mainstream Australia.

Racial prejudice definitely exists and can’t be tolerated, but it is often Muslims who self-segregate first.

We are lucky in Australia that our tolerance, strong economy and easygoing manner mean any resentment Muslims may feel quickly dissipates. They acquire jobs, raise families and embrace Australian norms.

Refugees often lack advanced skills and can have histories of trauma, making their task tougher, but the majority do just fine.

Given terrorism is the conflation of personal with political resentments, those who struggle to rise socially are more likely to latch on to Koranic verses that encourage jihad. Being a refugee is not the cause but it is a risk factor.

It is actually a positive that refugees are over-represented in terrorism cases because it shows once you acquire skills and social mobility in Australia, you feel part of the national story. This is not the case for Muslims in Europe or Britain, as the many cases of terrorists with tertiary education prove.

…Muslims are still taught to consider their religious identity first and foremost, and encouraged to feel a strong attachment to the ummah, or international Muslim community.

…The afterlife is glorified as the ultimate goal of life, which makes suicide bombing more glamorous. There are also clear teachings that the arc of history is destined to be one of a greater uptake of Islam, sometimes through force.
Attitudes within the community also mean there is no great difference between the views of the kind of person who might commit violence to the vast majority who won’t.

These trends mean many are already primed for the message of groups such as ISIS, especially when things go wrong in their life.

…These are great challenges that will take decades to modify. But they require calm but urgent responses.

Tanveer Ahmed is a psychiatrist and author of Fragile Nation


Do you want:

  • Ad-free access?
  • Access to our very popular daily crossword?
  • Access to daily sudoku?
  • Access to Incite Politics magazine articles?
  • Access to podcasts?
  • Access to political polls?

Our subscribers’ financial support is the reason why we have been able to offer our latest service; Audio blogs. 

Click Here  to support us and watch the number of services grow.

If you agree with me that’s nice, but what I really want to achieve is to make you question the status quo, look between the lines and do your own research. Do not be a passive observer in this game we call life.

You can follow me on 

To read my previous articles click on my name in blue.