Myriam Francois-Cerrah argues that the Western narrative of Islamic extremism is simplistic. Political factors shape groups like Al-Shabaab that "package" grievances in religion. Francois-Cerrah is a journalist and Oxford researcher in Middle East studies.
Jihadist Motivations (04:19)
Francois-Cerrah believes Islamic ideology is overstated by Western media. Many ISIL recruits are "born agains," underemployed, and socially marginalized people seeking fame, rather than religious zealots. Studies find little connection between suicide terrorism and fundamentalism.
Terrorist Acts and Islam (05:32)
Western thinkers view religion with hostility, but Muslim countries see religion as a moral framework and do not support violence. Francois-Cerrah refutes cultural and political arguments that terrorism is rooted in Islam and highlights ironies of Western violence in the Middle East.
Marginalizing Muslims (02:57)
Viewing European Muslims as "other" promotes racism and cultural prejudice, and affects British policies. The documentary "Jihadi Brides" highlights child sexual exploitation without recognizing similar patterns among non-Muslims.
Function of Ideology (05:37)
Francois-Cerrah discusses how the "post-ideological" West uses ideology against Muslims. Terrorism is politically motivated; most ISIL fighters are local and responding to Western occupation, totalitarian regimes and civil war. Arab world polls show support for democracy.
Sectarian Argument (04:26)
Francois-Cerrah refutes Western attempts to characterize conflicts in Syria, Iraq and Yemen as between Sunni and Shia Islamic branches. Sectarian lines have historically blurred; Sunni tribes have fought ISIL in Syria. However, Western occupation has strengthened sectarianism.
Challenging Orientalism (04:33)
Francois-Cerrah draws on Edward Said, who criticized the Western construction of the Middle East and Islam as exotic, ideological, and exceptional from the West. This construction refuses to acknowledge corruption and tribalism in modern Europe.
Credits: Ideology and the East (00:20)
Credits: Ideology and the East
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