Skip to main content

Verified by Psychology Today

“Je Suis Moath al-Kasasbeh”

The world Rallies to Fight ISIS

Two million citizens and leaders from around the world rallied in Paris on Sunday 01/11/2015. Signs in the crowd included: “Je suis Charlie,” “Je suis Jewish,” and “Not in my name.” The issues represented were monumental. Freedom of speech and religion inspired the rally, as well as the idea of unity to stop terroristic violence. In late January and early February of 2015 we saw the atrocities of ISIS which shall not be described here except to say that they were barbaric acts. It is clear that ISIS must be stopped but more is needed. This article adds the role of the societal elimination of discrimination, marginalization, and bullying of ethnic or social groups as a terrorism prevention technique, as well as ample access to support and humanitarian services to draw people away from allegiance to extremist groups and ideologies.

Freedom of Speech

We are seeing in world-wide terrorism the clash of societies that have little or no freedom of speech and are strictly controlled by force colliding with the democratic societies where everyone is has a voice, but no one can freely harm others without consequences. Freedom of speech is the basis of a democracy. Without it, Democracy cannot survive. With freedom of speech and thought, a dictatorship cannot survive because the people will fight oppression. Dictatorships must fight freedom of speech and thought if they are to survive global changes in State governance. Therefore, in addition to the clash of Christian, Jewish and Muslim ideologies, we have the clash of democracy and dictatorship and secular government vs theological forms of government.

Another piece of the conflict is the idea that one group believes it has the one and only real truth communicated only to their group by God or Allah. Embracing diversity permits many to have traditions and beliefs that differ from each other, but are still valid and are respected rather than silenced. This is a huge shift for the more rigid cultures. It is about allowing everyone to have their own belief system as long as they do not harm others. It also may be about globally determining where the agreed upon line is between allowed and not allowed freedom of speech, religion, and action.

Feedom of religion and inclusion rather than exclusion.

It is ironic that Judaism, Christianity, and Islam are Abrahamic faiths which are similar in origin and beliefs and yet have been in conflict and war for centuries. Part of the conflict between them resulted from disagreements over the “one true religion,” but also who has power, land, and natural resources. Is it not time to see these Abrahamic religions as siblings from the same origin, rather than separate families with no connection or mutual roots?

Large numbers of believers in the Islamic faith attended the rally in Paris to say that Muslims that use violence in the name of Islam do not represent true Islam. These Muslims showed solidarity with the Jewish community, rather than radical Muslims, with signs such as “Je suis Jewish.” Violent Muslim sub-groups were characterized as a political group rather than a religious one. They are part of a movement attempting to convince everyone through brutality that they should control the second largest religion in the world ( and kill everyone else. Therefore, they would ultimately rule the world and all of its resources. This is very grandiose thinking which can be thought of as insane or anti-social because it represents a need for power and control and does not have anything to do with empathy for or understanding of others, religious beliefs, or reality

One of the sources of lack of empathy exhibited by terrorists and others at risk for violence, which allows them to be violent toward others is found in children and teen’s failed attachment experiences. If a person fails to attach to others in a way that allows for successful development of interpersonal relationships, empathy for others will not become a skill of adequate proportions. Without empathy, one does not have the inhibitory process to prevent him or her from harming others. One of the precursors of poor interpersonal attachment is trauma—often of an interpersonal nature in early childhood, adolescence, and/or adulthood. In childhood, the interpersonal trauma is primarily abuse, neglect, or domestic violence in the home of the child. In adolescence, the trauma appears in the form of peer bullying and rejection. In adulthood, the lack of interpersonal attachment presents as failure to form a deep emotional relationship with a partner or close friend. Developmentally, aggression as a primary strategy to solve life’s problems should disappear by age 6 (Tremblay, 2005). However, violent friends and family can set a role model for a young person in which aggression is used long past the age of 6.

In several studies of terrorists, it was discovered that many terrorists had experienced discrimination. Some terrorists come from disorganized, neglectful, and marginalized families. Some are street children and some had experienced bullying. Bullying, discrimination, violence, family disorganization, and intimidation can cause trauma and can be risk factors for later violence. To end violence from adults, society must end these traumatic events in the lives of children and teens. We must respect everyone, even those with whom we disagree and teach our children of the importance of doing so. Parenthetically, understanding and exhibiting the “golden rule” is one of the[KS1] developmental tasks of adolescence. When teens are bullied, discriminated against, and rejected by peers and given a violent role model, self-radicalization toward violence against the ruling society is fairly easy to comprehend and perhaps prevent.

Unity will solve our problems.

With unity of spirit and resolve, society can reject Terrorism, but cultures must also take measures to prevent it. Society must also recognize that discrimination and marginalization of certain ethnic groups is also part of the picture and must end. Child abuse and neglect and domestic violence must be eliminated around the world. Street children are prime candidates for terrorist groups, as well. We must be resolved to take care of street children around the world. Peer rejection and bullying is part of the picture and great efforts are needed to ensure that bullying vanishes forever. These underlying problems will require world-wide unity, resolve and effort.