Posts Tagged ‘Must Reads’

Good Journalism

Not really.  Excellent.  Moving and insightful.  Great.  Sometimes adjectives fail.  Read this for yourselves.  British journalist Johan Hari delves into the world of former British jihadi’s, in an effort to understand how one comes to bomb their own country.

But Usama was offered a scholarship to the heart of the English elite – the City of London Boys’ School, where he could practice cricket at Lord’s. He bonded with the Jews at the school as outsiders and supporters of Tottenham Hotspur football team. He still speaks like the public schoolboy he was – in long, confident sentences.

Some berobed men are staring at us, so he takes me down to the mosque’s office. “At that time, being a Muslim meant being an Islamist. It was taken for granted,” he says. So when he was 13, he joined an Islamic fundamentalist organisation called Jimas. At big sociable conferences every weekend, they were told: you don’t feel at home in Britain, but you can’t go “home” to a country you have never visited. So we have a third identity for you – a pan-national Islamism that knows no boundaries and can envelop you entirely.

It sounds familiar. This is the identity I hear shouted by young Islamists throughout the East End: I might sound like you, but I am nothing like you. I am Other. I belong elsewhere – in a place that does not yet exist, but that I will create, with my fists and my fury.

Jimas told their members they were part of a persecuted billion, being blown up and locked down across the world. “It was a bit like a gang,” he says. “And we had a strong sense of being under siege. It was all a conspiracy against Islam, and we were the guardians of Islam. That’s how we saw ourselves … A lot of my friends would wear the army boots, and carry knives.” I realise now that for a nebbish intellectual boy, it must have felt intoxicating to be told he was part of a military movement that would inevitably conquer history.

It’s a long read, but I promise it’s worth it.

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