Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Jihadists on the couch

I guess inspired by Tony Soprano. Here is an article about Deprogramming Jihadists and it talks about Saudi efforts to rehabilitate extremists. While this appears to be a positive move, the problem still lies with the Saudi education system (even in Islamic schools in England) and a black & white worldview:
Jilani’s students, who range in age from 18 to 36, are part of a generation brought up on heroic tales of Saudi fighters who left home to fight alongside the mujahedeen in Afghanistan during the 1980s and who helped to force the Soviets to withdraw from the country. The Saudi state was essentially built on the concept of jihad, which King Abdul Aziz al-Saud used to knit disparate tribal groups into a single nation. The word means “struggle” and in Islamic law usually refers to armed conflict with non-Muslims in defense of the global Islamic community. Saudi schools teach a version of world history that emphasizes repeated battles between Muslims and nonbelieving enemies. Whether to Afghanistan in the 1980s or present-day Iraq, Saudi Arabia has exported more jihadist volunteers than any other country; 15 of the 19 hijackers on Sept. 11 were Saudis.
And what do you need for stability? a job, a car, and a wife (ok..but what about potential ex-jihadi husbands for women who have done nothing wrong):
(t)he new program also addresses the psychological needs and emotional weaknesses that have led many young men to jihad in the first place. It tries to give frustrated and disaffected young men the trappings of stability — a job, a car, possibly a wife. Though international human rights groups continue to sound the alarm about Saudi Arabia’s habit of detaining suspects without charging them and of punishing certain crimes with floggings and amputations, these young men seem to have become the subjects of a continuing experiment in counterterrorism as a kind of social work.
hmm..why does it remind me a little of 1984? But here is the bit about therapy:

Though it might seem out of place in a society whose religion proscribes the representation of animal or human forms, art therapy is practiced. Awad al-Yami, who studied the subject at Penn State, leads the classes, and chalk drawings by former jihadists decorate the walls of his classroom. Although the sketches — mostly ornate Arabic calligraphy and depictions of flowers — do not especially suggest that demons are being wrestled with, art therapy helps inmates to examine the consequences of their actions, Yami says. “I ask them, ‘If you blow up a car, what will happen?’ The paper gives them a safe place to express some destructive emotions.”

Most prisoners complete the program within two months. Upon release, each former jihadist is required to sign a pledge that he has forsaken extremist sympathies; the head of his family must sign as well. Some also receive a car (often a Toyota) and aid from the Interior Ministry in renting a home. Social workers assist former jihadists and their families in making post-release plans for education, employment and, usually, marriage. “Getting married stabilizes a man’s personality,” Hadlaq says. “He thinks more about a long term future and less about himself and his anger.”
Ok. But how about opening up the society a bit - and may be they won't have to buy off jihadists like this. Read the full article here.