We should bring Muhammed Sheglabo home, make him a cup of tea and talk to him.
Think about your life right now, you live in a safe, prosperous nation, you get to frolic around our beautiful Murdoch campus, surrounded by attractive, intelligent people and learning skills that will bring prosperity to your life and community. Compare that to an ISIS fighter, living in a shit, desolate, lawless desert fighting a futile, perpetual battle, mostly against people of the same faith, destined to die in ditch, hated by the world. The fact is, for Muhammed Sheglabo, being an ISIS fighter seemed like a better option, with a brighter future, and that isn’t normal.
Muhammed isn’t alone either, there are believed to be up to 250 Australians fighting with militant groups in Syria and Iraq. By and large, the Australians fighting comprise of one demographic; disenfranchised young men. When you have hundreds, not a handful but hundreds, of young men and boys throwing everything away you have a problem and clearly the current approach of alienate and condemn isn’t helping.
ISIS’ whole existence serves the imperialist Israeli-American agenda of Middle East intervention. ISIS spend most of their time killing people of the Islamic faith, a faith they claim to uphold. ISIS create suspicion and discrimination against all law abiding, society contributing Muslims across the world. And far from establishing a holy caliphate, ISIS have made being Muslim and even being brown skinned more difficult for over a billion people. The far right ultra nationalists here in Australia point to ISIS and claim all Muslims or all Arabs are like that and demand we deport and revoke their citizenship immediately, that Australia should only be for Australians. It’s an ideology that mirrors that of ISIS itself.
Instead of contributing to and escalating this conflict, let’s rise above it. We need to reach out and talk to our disenfranchised young people and ask them why they feel helpless. Right now the approach of our leaders seems to be to call a press conference surrounded by as many flags as possible and condemn and alienate all the people not licking their arse everyday. Right now if you want to do anything for youths, like open a skatepark, you can expect to face a year long sustained campaign from geriatrics against the notion of kids having fun. If we invest time energy and money into youth engagement programs we’ll identify the at risk young men before ISIS recruiters do. If we invest time and money into professional counselling for troubled, alienated youth we’ll deradicalise them and show them how great a society based on egalitarianism is. I’m sure we can put together a more compelling argument for Australian social freedoms and social safety than “Put down the chicken wings and come jihad bro, it’ll be like Call of Duty*”
As I write this, the news today is reporting that a 17 year old Melbourne kid just blew himself up in Baghdad in the name of ISIS. Muhammed Sheglabo could be next. We should bring Muhammed Sheglabo home, make him a cup of tea and ask him if he’s ok. At the very least, we’ll save a life.
*Actual tweet by ISIS recruiter.