It has been reported that Bernard Lewis, a noted ‘Arabist’ at Princeton, recently gave a briefing to senior policy makers in Washington where he listed chastity as one of the root causes of terrorism along with poverty, U.S. hegemony and embarrassment and rage at the decline of Islamic civilisation.
Chastity? At first glance this is quite a surprise, but he observes that many of the men being drawn into terrorist factions are young and single, living in a society that places a very high value on chastity, and are just as vulnerable to sexual frustration as the rest of humanity. He contents that some Muslim men who see their situation as hopeless are being attracted to radical Islam as a way of working out frustrations, some of which are sexual.
I am wary of taking this argument at face value, however I don’t dismiss it out of hand either, for I wonder whether the Shadow could be involved here. Could such men be projecting their shadow sides on to the ‘promiscuous’ West as a way of burying their secret desires and shames within? The same way that Western men who’ve engaged in gay bashing have often been found to have anxieties about their own sexuality?
If so, then could part of the solution to terrorism involve the encouraging Muslim reformers who are prepared to face their shadow sides to speak more of their experiences? To actively support them in having a greater voice in global society? To nurture them in illuminating the darkness within? I’m no expert and accept I may be way off base here. But I wonder.