The radicalization of peaceful Muslims is a big problem almost everywhere Muslims live. And it’s not going to go away any time soon. The question of how to prevent radicalization clearly defies easy answers, which is why most of the answers given to it aren’t helpful or are only partial at best.
However, Norwegian filmmaker Deeyah Khan begins where I believe we must begin—namely, with the wounding and brokenness that makes our Muslim youth so susceptible to the propaganda of ISIS. She laments the suffering of Europe’s Muslim youth whose “families and communities… seem to care more about their honor and their reputation than the happiness in the lives of their own kids.” This situation leads so many young Muslim men and women to feel they can never really belong in either the Western society where they live or their parents’ transplanted, honor-and-shame-driven immigrant community. Facing this struggle alone “leaves them open like wounds,” says Khan. “And for some, the worldview of radical Islam becomes the infection that festers in these open wounds.”
As great journalism often does, Khan’s award-winning film Jihad: A Story of the Others challenges the official version of events. Nick Davies, special correspondent to The Guardian, says, she shreds the caricatures and clichés tabloids and governments like to give and shows us what’s really happening.
Based on all she learned while making the film, she tells us in her ardent and gracious TED talk where our only hope lies. She says it will never do for Muslim parents to close ranks and whistle in the dark, hoping their youth will simply be able to hold it together. The problem can only be remedied by both parents and youth working together with their host country’s original population. According to Khan, “Only through creating more inclusive dialogue across, and within, cultures and communities can we hope to foster [the] understanding” essential to prevent radicalization. This is what we so urgently need today.