In Your Face | Dial M for Muslim radicalisation: How some madrassas are turning young students into fundamentalists

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A purported video of a boy chanting slogans against Hindu and Christian communities during ‘Save the Republic’ rally conducted by PFI on 21 May 2022 is disturbing but not shocking. Indoctrinating children to hate non-Islamic followers is the cornerstone in the spreading of Islamic radicalism.

Last year, Islamic radicalised children took out a protest demanding the beheading of Hindu cleric Yati Narsinghanand. The children were shouting, ‘Gustakh-E-Rasool Ki Ek Hi Saza, Sar Tan Se Juda’ which literally means, “If you insult our Prophet, there is only one punishment, that your head must be decapitated.”

If terrorism has a religion, Islamic radicalism is the doctrine under which Islamic terrorism germinates. I do not for one moment think that all followers of Islam are terrorists. That is certainly not true. Over the years of my life having grown up in the Middle East and India, I have forged friendships with many followers of Islam globally and many of them are not terrorists.

But this truth also cannot be denied or glossed over that in most terror attacks around the world, especially in the last few decades, it is Islamic terrorism that is at the root cause of death and destruction. Most terrorists caught by authorities globally were followers of a radical strain of Islam.

Radical Islam is taught to the followers of Islam from a young age in the madrassas.

Post 9/11, globally, madrassas drew added attention when it became known that several Taliban leaders and Al Qaeda members had studied in madrassas in Pakistan. These revelations have led to the accusations that madrassas promote Islamic extremism, militancy and are a recruiting ground for terrorism.

Some madrassas are alleged to have links with terrorist organisations like Taliban, ISIS and Al Qaeda. As per intel reports, madrassas promote radicalism and religious fanaticism among Muslim children.

Concerns have also been expressed over the spread of Islamic radicalism through schools, universities and mosques.

Some global analysts opine that Islamic radicalism is threatening the existence of more moderate beliefs and practices in other parts of the Muslim world.

In a research study conducted by the European Foundation of South Asian Studies titled, Human Trafficking, Religious Indoctrination & Radicalisation, it states, “Radicalisation and religious indoctrination must be perceived as part of the whole process that leads to the recruitment of people by terrorist organisations, and therefore the current focus on securitisation should also encompass integration and education. Ignorance, in this case on both sides, breeds radicalism, with terrorism as its outlet.”

It further states, “The madrassas are considered by many families as the only realistic option towards access of education for their children, especially among those who come from poor backgrounds, since these madrassas provide food and shelter for their students.

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A teacher proposes to educate these children at the madrassa and subsequently promises to find them employment in the service of Islam. Madrassa students have a tendency of becoming highly devoted to their masters, where the authoritarian doctrinaire education established on memorisation inhibits even the slightest expression of free thought or individual will, and gives a green light to religious fanaticism and incites a desire to confront anyone pointed out as an unbeliever by their teacher. The path following recruitment relies on the age of the child involved, where youngsters (between 8 and 12) are preferred. The madrassas are usually in remote areas and maintain a limited number of students so that they do not draw significant attention. The students are refused any contact with the outside world and are indoctrinated in sectarian extremism, hatred for non-Muslim and anti-Western beliefs, the report revealed.

In another study paper published by the European Foundation for South Asian Studies prior to COVID-19, it was discussed how Pakistani madrassas continue to contribute to radicalisation and religious terrorism in Jammu and Kashmir.

In fact, some intelligence reports have revealed that madrassas in Pakistan have been inviting those who have been involved in the J&K conflict in order to inspire their students to actively participate in it.

The European Foundation for South Asian Studies further highlighted that the madrassas are well equipped to radicalise their students and various terrorist groups in Pakistan in an attempt to exert radical Islam and the idea of ‘Holy War’ for the cause of Kashmir.

Intelligence reports also suggest that several madrassas and Islamist outfits like the PFI receive funds from the Middle East and Turkey and are behind the grooming of hate among young Muslims in India.

Representational image. ANI

This mission to spread hate in and against India while playing the victim of atrocities being a minority intensified post the Abrogation of Article 370. Islamic radicals aim to spread Islamic terrorism across India. They have mobilised their young population across different cities in India to create mayhem.

As per a report published by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), the recruitment of children by terrorist groups is a worldwide phenomenon. It further states that violent and extremist groups like Boko Haram, ISIS, etc, are rampantly using children to boost their visibility

In an analysis conducted in the UNODC report on six-month data set of ISIS propaganda, it revealed a total of 254 events that included images of children, 38 per cent of the images were of children engaged in acts of violence, which were used to shock the public and show the ruthlessness of the group.

If we look at terror attacks in the last five years, we will see that most terror attacks were from Islamic terror organisations. In 2019, for example, there were 8,300 terror attacks around the world and 25,000 fatalities, most terror attacks were committed by Islamic terror organisations.

In order to curb terrorism around the world, global intelligence agencies must find a legal way to break the bounds of indoctrination taking place in madrassas. India too needs to find a solution to the hate being spread through madrassas.

The author is the founder of GoaChronicle.com and a BJP leader. Views expressed are personal.

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In Your Face | Dial M for Muslim radicalisation: How some madrassas are turning young students into fundamentalists
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