Monday, October 27, 2014

The Call of Jihad

Spiegel puzzles over the magnetic force of radical Islam. Even Kurds. Even not only just Kurds, but Alevi Kurds

# Spiegel Online
The Call of Jihad () {

Families Struggle as German Kurds Join Islamists in Syria

By = Maximilian Popp
Date = October 15, 2014

A few months before Sedat Aras set off to join the jihad, the young man took down the Kurdish flag which had been hanging on the wall of his bedroom in his family's home in Hamburg, Germany. "I'm a mujahedeen now," he said.

... Sedat's family are Alevi Kurds and yet he is now fighting on the side of Islamic State (IS), even though it is attacking Kobani, the Kurdish city in Syria that has become the symbol of the war against the Sunni terrorist organization. In his sister's eyes, Sedat is waging war against his own people.

The trip to Syria by German-Kurd Sedat Aras, 23, follows a rapid period of radicalization. His story combines the identity crisis experienced by some children born into immigrant families with the seemingly magnetic force exerted by radical Islam.


The developments have shed light on a little understood generational conflict that has erupted among the families currently losing their sons to the jihad. It is a conflict that affects Turkish and Arab immigrants as well as people of ethnic German origin who have converted to Islam. Now, it is also dividing the Kurdish community in Germany -- a community that has recently taken to the streets to protest the tragedy unfolding in Kobani. The demonstrations have largely been peaceful, but there have been isolated cases of violence.

Özdemir, the daughter of Kurdish immigrants from Turkey, has viewed with horror how Salafists have also successfully recruited Islamic State supporters among German Kurds. Barely a week goes by in which Özdemir doesn't receive calls from distressed parents who don't know what they can do to prevent their children's radicalization...


Researchers like Mouhanad Khorchide, an Austrian of Palestinian origin and Islamic theologian at Germany's University of Münster, have been trying to find an explanation. He believes that many Islamic State supporters in Germany have limited interest in Islamic issues. Instead, he argues, they view Salafism, a particularly reactionary movement within Sunni Islam, as a kind of counterculture. "Salafism is a product of modernity," Khorchide says. He describes it as being similar to radical youth movements seen in many other societies. Salafists, Khorchide explains, divide the world into good and evil, pious and non-believers. They offer orientation and cohesion to young people struggling to find a direction in life.


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