Daesh At Home! Need For A Comprehensive Social, Religious And Psychological Study Of The Phenomenon
02 August 2016
By Dr. Khaled M.
WHAT should you do if you suspect that a son, a brother or a cousin is in
contact with Daesh (the so-called IS)? How do you know, for sure? Is it enough
that he is becoming very religious? Isn't it a stage many of us went through
in life? Then what if all your advices and discussions fail to change his
mind? Do you just pray for him and wait for age and wisdom to do the job for
you? Do you ask for family and friends' help? Go to a religious scholar, a
psychologist, an educator, or … call the authorities?
Now here's the real challenge: ''If you do report your relative, what
guarantees do you have that this is the best option for him? He might be
innocent, after all!'' Nuha Mandoura, my Aldana TV hostess, asked. She thought
it was a real dilemma for Saudi families to deal with possible terrorists in
their midst. They are faced with difficult choices when it comes to dealing
with the situation.
I told her that families need awareness, education and training. They are not
well prepared. A loving father might explain his son's behavior in a different
way than you and I. A mother is blind when it comes to her kids. Parents tend
to find excuses, underestimate alarming signs, and prefer soft solutions. With
patience and tolerance they have dealt with many issues before. They may think
this time it is no different.
''What is the solution, then?'' asked Nuha. I have a proposal. ''We need a
national plan, a grand project. First of all, we need a comprehensive social,
religious and psychological study of the phenomenon. We should also learn how
the Internet, social media and telecommunication are used to influence, direct
and recruit the young.
Next, we should train carefully-chosen consultants in religious, educational
and psychological matters. Their task is to provide educational material and
training courses for families, like those given to engaged and married
couples. They should also provide hotline and one-on-one consultation to
families with troubled children.
''What if nothing helped? If advice and consultation couldn't change a
stubborn mind or bring back a misguided youth?,'' Nuha asked. ''In this case,
it is the duty of the consultant to notify the concerned authorities. It is
much safer for a son to be in custody than to be for ever lost in terror
land,'' I answered.
The alarming signals are many — and pretty confusing if you have no or little
experience and knowledge as to how to deal with them. The most dangerous are
hard to detect. Terrorist organizations today are more sophisticated than
before. They may direct their recruits to act normal and fit in, so they
wouldn't draw attention.
Still, parents should know their children well enough to notice at least some
abnormal changes in their behavior. Armed with good training, they can deal
with the problem before it gets out of hand. Sometimes it is a matter of
social bitterness, hyper energy, unemployment, wrong company, wrong imam or
teacher, obsession with political or religious issues, and so on. These
problems are easier to deal with and better to be resolved at an early stage.
In most cases, a smart, compassionate and educated dialogue with our children
may go a long way in building bridges and forging trust and friendship that
would make it much easier to detect dangers, correct thoughts and change
attitudes. You would be surprised how much this kind of productive
communication is missing between families and their children.
Aside from the generation gap, many parents are depending too much on schools
and religious schooling for the upbringing and education of their young. Being
busy is their main excuse for such laziness and over dependence.
The result is this breakdown of understanding and communication channels
within families. The vacuum is filled by relationships with the outside world
opened up by the Internet and modern communications. The family space is being
overtaken by cyberspace, where we have no idea what and who is lurking there,
conspiring and scheming to influence, use and abuse our kids.
Crown Prince and Interior Minister Prince Muhammad Bin Naif, always says that
a citizen is the No. 1 security officer. He is right. We have to shoulder our
responsibility in defending our country, protecting our society and guiding
our families. Many terrorists were apprehended and their evil plans foiled as
a result of valuable tips from, and good cooperation with, concerned citizens.
To be better prepared for watching out for our youth, we need to be better
equipped. Public awareness programs, training courses, free, easily and
readily-available consultation for families and parents, based on
comprehensive scientific studies, are very much needed.
— Dr. Khaled M. Batarfi is a Saudi writer based in Jeddah. He can be
reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him at Twitter:@kbatarfi