[WARNING: a little long and not proof-read. So apologies for typos and sloppiness]
First of all, I have to start by saying that the whole idea of ISIS is blown out of proportion by the US and its allies to facilitate yet another ugly and evil intervention in the area. As a matter of fact, the crimes done by other groups and regimes are way more sever in nature and in the number of victims than those committed by a group like ISIS. A quick look at Hoothies in Yemen, and Bashar in Syria, and Shii’s in Iraq would give you a clear idea that ISIS case is just being used to legitimize US military intervention.
However, I follow the writings of many people and I see that ISIS and similar groups have only gained more popularity, support, and power; not just the fake popularity our media shows but real popularity among people whom I never though they may support such a group. In this relatively long post, I will share some of my thoughts on why a group like ISIS would gain such popularity. It is important to say that despite this popularity they are gaining, they are still representing a very tiny minority in the Muslim world. But mark my word, if the world continues to move in the same direction it has been moving in, this minority is only going to get more popular and more powerful. Take a quick look at the world in 1990 when Bush the Father launched his first war against Iraq and the world right now!
Listing those few reasons (or causes) does not mean I find it legitimate or reasonable to do what ISIS do. These are not excuses. This is just a humble attempt to put our hands on the cause of the problem AND try to solve it in case there exist amongst us some wise people, who think outside the box of ‘launch military attacks against them. We are the most powerful country in the world’ 😦
REASON 1: Oppression
I grew up in Egypt. I did not personally face oppression. My parents worked very hard to provide me and my brothers with care and education. But having a look at people around me in my own country, I see a huge amount of injustice: the majority of the population is suffering from the lack of food, lack of health care, lack of education, and even lack of living as dignified human beings. I saw people eating from the garbage, people dying because they are not accepted in hospitals, a whole generation that lacks quality education, and many die while migrating in their pursuit of escaping poverty. Morality is only going down and corruption has become the norm in the society.
Taking a more global look at the region—that is looking beyond Egypt, the situation is not that different. Lands are occupied, people are killed, a whole people is displaced from their home land, etc. etc.
Neither Egypt nor neighboring countries lack resources. On the contrary, this area is very wealthy in the natural and human resources. So what is the problem? The problem is that a very powerful minority, a minority that controls politics, media, law, military, police, and court, is in control of the resources of this land. They do all what it takes to keep this control, for controlling politics means controlling economy. It was quite impossible to change the situation without facing this powerful minority.
How about the ‘free’ world? Well, the ‘free’ world provided a solid an unwavering support to …. no surprise … this powerful, corrupt, and oppressive minority.
In this state of oppression, people have to oppose! People have to revolt! People have to bring about change!
Over the few past decades, there emerged a few ideologies to overcome this oppression, one of these ideologies was to overcome this oppression with violence and their motto was: “nothing can defeat iron except iron.”
Trying to avoid criticizing their ideology (or otherwise the post will be even way longer), I will just say that they forgot that the corruption they are trying to fight is not only using military power. It is using media, law, and, surprisingly, a popular support. There needs to be a whole different effort to fight this corruption and reform this ugly situation it brought the society to. However, their ideas found support and those groups started forming and operating.
REASON 2: Killing any Hope to Overcome Oppression
These violent groups were not the only groups that were trying to change the situation. There existed a completely different ideology that wants to reform the society and overcome this oppression through peaceful social and political means. They faced oppression with education and they faced persecution with patience and perseverance. This political ideology was embraced the most by the Islamic movement yet other movements were also following the same route: political and social activism and peaceful persistent resistance. Every time the oppressive regimes try to increase the dose of oppression to drive these movements to violence, They fail.
Their ideas were so powerful that it really took away, a lot, from the violent ideas.
In 2010, when the Tunisian revolution took place, the peoples of so many of these countries revolted. Their revolutions were peaceful and popular. Finally, peaceful and political resistance succeeded. Finally the violent ideas were proven wrong. Finally the region was given an opportunity to reform by the hands of its own people. Finally selecting our own government was possible. A very bright future, right?!
Unfortunately, the answer is NO! We are approaching 2015 now and all the hopes, the dreams, and the plans for freedom are killed. They are killed by the very same powerful minority supported by their allies of the ‘free’ world. As I write this post, a bloody military coup, orchestrated (or at least supported) by the US is taking place in Egypt. Another coup is taking place by a US backed ex-General of the military in Libya. The Yemeni capital is being occupied by Al-Hoothies, a group supported by Iran and Russia. And Bashar is still employing his Russian killing machinery on hundreds of thousands of his people while the West is looking at ISIS.
The poor young people who took the route of political and social activism are either killed in a protest, jailed for no reason, or is hiding somewhere fearing killing or jailing. The rest have friends or relatives who are either killed or jailed.
“Hell to democracy! Hell to politics! Hell to activism!” These are the exact words of many your people who used to, one day, play the game of politics. “Ben Laden was right!” “ISIS is the right way!” etc. etc. … A huge Ideology change.
A group like ISIS benefited from the deterioration of democracy more than anyone else. And please note, a country like the US who promotes democracy as we breath is the first country to support those oppressive regimes that killed democracy and with it they killed the hope of millions of people to have a peaceful change.
REASON 3: Extreme Views of Islam (not what you think it is)
You are all aware of extreme views that call for the killing in the name of Islam. But I would like to also bring to your attention another extreme view that is way more dangerous than the violent one.
I was going through my Facebook to come across a sermon by the US based, Sheikh (name omitted) entitled: “The crisis of ISIS ….” I got very excited and despite the fact it was ~ 40 minutes, I decided to listen to it and learn from it. And as I expected it was a session of bashing ISIS for what they are doing. However, the lecture also provided the alternative. What was the alternative to joining ISIS dear Sheikh? “Stay home! Go do some rituals! Learn about Islam! Stick to your leaders even if they are evil!”
What an alternative! You are telling the zealous young people who can’t stand the amount of oppression they see to stay home? You are telling a Muslim who reads in his Quran that he has to stand for justice and enjoin what is right and forbid what is wrong to increase his rituals?! You are telling someone who is about to join a militant group and give his life to fight oppression to … just learn?
I am sorry dear Sheikh. I am sorry to tell you that you are one main reason people find ISIS the way to go about fighting oppression. What happened to all forms and sorts of struggle other than military struggle? What are we going to say to Allah when we are asked about the amount of oppression that we lived in? Who is going to face injustice if good people stay home?
Those young zealous individuals need to be shown the right way to stand for justice and fight oppression. They need to be given the opportunity to do their part or otherwise they will find it themselves. Militant groups, ISIS or otherwise, are giving those people a chance. What chance did YOU give them other than telling them that ISIS is wrong? I, too, disagree with what ISIS is doing but I do not dare to tell people, “stay home, just stick to your leaders, or just increase your rituals!”
REASON 4: The War Against Terrorism
Finally, corrupt regimes and the military and intelligence agencies of many countries really cause this to proliferate! Either to increase their budget or to have the ability to violate human rights laws, these entities use their media power to make a group like ISIS look like a very powerful group that is getting ready to rule the world. People, under fear, give their governments the support they need to fight this evil group and ’save’ the world from their evil. But as a result, ISIS appears as a hero in the eyes of many people and this fake war on terrorism that is invented and fueled by the ‘civilized’ world governments (and now being used by any oppressive regime to violate more human rights laws) will one day go out of hand and it will be a real war that no one can control. Since the war on terrorism started, we only see more terrorism. We lost lives of millions of innocent people and yet the so-called terrorism is getting stronger.