‘The big education for me is that civilisation is fragile and can be destroyed in a heartbeat' - Jeremy Brade, former peacekeeper in Sarajevo.

Monday, February 18, 2019

I Was A Teenage Jihadi Bride


The camera is one of the best liars. A carefully-selected shot can turn a gormless youngster into what looks like an insufferably smug terrorist's moll.

Facebook is fizzing with hatred, indignation and daft solutions. Even the Home Secretary, Mr Sajid Javid, tells the Times “My message is clear – if you have supported terrorist organisations abroad I will not hesitate to prevent your return,” a position contradicted by the head of MI6, who says it is not legally possible.

What happened?

A 15-year-old girl is living in Tower Hamlets, London. Her family are from Bangladesh, a Muslim country, and Bangladeshis are by far the largest ethnic minority group in the borough. Bangladeshis also suffer from high rates of unemployment. The borough is full of new arrivals and transients. The pupils at the school she attends is "predominantly Muslim."

If she is a well-brought-up girl by the standards of her community, she won't go out much or have much to do with non-family males. In a different world this might protect her from bad influences, but not now the world can rush through your landline and iPhone.

So her family, her friends, her classmates, her local place of worship, the local community... all sharing one clear understanding of the Universe and her place in it.

The school? An irrelevant academic treadmill. It has been rated as "outstanding" by Ofsted in a report whose wording seems more unguardedly enthusiastic than one might expect from bureaucrats. The exam results are stunning; some years later, there are allegations of exam irregularities, a ruthlessly exam-oriented curriculum and management bullying of teaching staff. One doesn't feel it's going to stress Enlightenment values, particularly a culture of suspended judgment with respect to religion.

And then she has a couple of schoolfriends of about the same age...

What is a closely-controlled, hormonal teenage girl's dearest wish?

And how to fulfil it? The Internet will guide you. Within ten days, you will be found a young hero to marry!

Just imagine. Instantly, you'll be the equal of your mother, and more.

And how can she possibly regret anything? What in her life and environment will have prepared her to do that?


BBC News, 23 Feb 2015 - school denies radicalisation happened on-site:

Daily Mail, 15 Feb 2019 - about Shamima's husband:

Birmingham Mail, 15 Feb 2019 - possible loss of citizenship for Shamima?

Evening Standard, 16 Feb 2019:

Daily Mirror, 16 Feb 2019 - on Shamima's husband:

Birmingham Mail, 17 Feb 2019 - transcript of interview with Shamima on Sky News:

Demographics of Bethnal Green North (Tower Hamlets):

Borough profile of migrant population in Tower Hamlets:

Borough profile of Tower Hamlets - unemployment and ethnic groupings:

Wikipedia entry on Shamima's school  - "school's population is predominantly Muslim":

2012 Ofsted report on Shamima's school:

BBC News, 10 Feb 2017 - suspension of headteacher re alleged exam irregularities:

BBC News, 10 March 2017 - follow-up on leadership, exams:


Sackerson said...

JD comments:

"And how can she possibly regret anything? What in her life and environment will have prepared her to do that?"

I think that is fair comment: it doesn't just apply to her, many younger people have been abandoned by feckless parents and trendy PC schools to the point where they are lost and will follow anyone who can promise a better tomorrow.

However, she has not helped her case by attempting to justify the Manchester Arena bombing. On the other hand I recall a conversation with an American while we were both waiting for taxis outside a hotel shortly after the 9/11 attack. We were just talking generally and he suddenly said "We had it coming" Was he sympathetic to the terrorists? No, of course not. Was he right to say what he said? Probably because he was more or less my age and so was old enough to remember what the USA did in Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia and was well aware of what the USA were doing in the Middle East.

What to do about Shamima? I am not wise enough to answer that question.

CherryPie said...

The journalists were 'politically correct' in interviewing her. This lead to a profile of who she is (now) based on their questions. Perhaps the media representation is not who she is now?

If I was talking to her I would ask her different questions which would perhaps lead to a more honest representation of who she is and what she believes...

Sackerson said...

@CherryPie: What questions have you in mind?