The Patrimony

In politics, everything is relatives

Tag: Islamic State

Certain interactions repeat themselves

by fpman

Here is a very interesting piece in the NY Post (“My ISIS boyfriend”), looking at the story of a French woman who delved real deep into some research on radicalisation in France and the ISIS (Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant) phenomenon. As the lady reveals through her own fascinating experience:

“This is why girls go there,” said Erelle. “It’s the dream of a good life. They are persuaded that it’s a paradise and that they don’t have any future in Britain or France and they won’t find good husbands and can never be good Muslims surrounded by infidels. Bilel told Melodie she could have a beautiful life, a big apartment and lots of children.”

These considerations are important to understand. It is equally important to understand that this is nothing new.

Take this book as an example: “The Convert,” by Deborah Baker.

It is the story of Margaret Marcus, a Jewish-American girl from New York who suffered from some major vulnerabilities for some time in her life and eventually chose to convert, seeking a solution to all her troubles, and went to Pakistan. She was invited there by Abul A’la Maududi (1903-1979), an Islamist scholar-politician who was the founder there of the Jamaat-e-Islami party. One of the most influential Islamist thinkers in the early development of modern political Islam.

Margaret went to Pakistan in 1961. Maududi, happy that in distant America someone chose Islam (it was more of a big deal at the time), accepted her into his house, and attempted to find a husband for her.

The story is in fact quite complicated from hereon and I would not like to shoot it down with a cheap summary — let me point out that Margaret Marcus went on to live as Maryam Jameelah in her new life. The story of her conversion (a version of it) is widely known in the Islamic world.

Now guess what… one of the arguments that tempted Margaret-Maryam to foreign land was that as a Muslim convert she would not find decent existence (in both a spiritual and a material sense) and a good husband if she stayed in non-Muslim land.

Given that these interactions, which apparently show a durable pattern, nowadays gain strategic significance in the context of the Islamic State, perhaps it is time to pay more attention to the excellent book mentioned above.


A million Erasmus babies

by fpman

Besides stimulating cooperation in the field of higher education and, as part of that, studies abroad, the Erasmus Programme is the European Union’s attempt at social-engineering a transnational European class of open-minded, pro-European integration, multi-lingual, mobile, and high-achieving people, possibly the future leaders of the continent (the program is running since 1987 so we may still have to wait to see).

As a bonus, the European Community Action Plan for the Mobility of University Students (ERASMUS stands for that, though it is also reference to the medieval Dutch scholar Erasmus) may also lead to the birth of children with a fully transnational identity, from parents who have come to know each other while spending time abroad with the Erasmus scholarship’s support.

Recently, a study prepared for the European Commission showed that over a quarter of program participants may have found their future partners like this, and the Commission presented this by leaping to the conclusion that this may have resulted in one-million babies

(Never mind that “alternative cost” matters here as maybe not these babies but other babies, from other people, may still have been born if the Erasmus pairs don’t come together.)

Italian novelist Umberto Eco is quoted in the article accounting of the report’s findings. He seems overjoyed as European intellectuals often are when it comes to the subject:

“I call it a sexual revolution: a young Catalan man meets a Flemish girl – they fall in love, they get married and they become European, as do their children. The Erasmus idea should be compulsory – not just for students, but also for taxi drivers, plumbers and other workers. By this, I mean they need to spend time in other countries within the European Union; they should integrate.”

Methodology may be a problematic aspect of the European Commission report. The article mentions that it is based on “interviewing” 88,000 students although it is of course not sample size but random selection that is important in determining whether survey results are representative. And for that one has to have a well-defined population in the first place, e.g. students who have done the Erasmus program but not much else prior to that, perhaps (to filter out those for whom the Erasmus experience was not Transnational Experience No. 1). This is all significant as at the European Commission they seem to have arrived at the one-million figure for Erasmus babies by projecting that from the finding of how many former Erasmus students had partners of a different nationality. Anyway, here is the original report. I haven’t had the chance to go through all of its 227 pages yet but there is no mention of the words “children” or “babies” in there.

At least it may be confidently proclaimed that the Erasmus program is really beneficial to many.

The reason why I was recently reminded of this article (albeit it is of relevance to this blog in any case) is the ongoing search for answers as to how the Islamic State finds such a wide audience that is listening to its message, even in Europe.

Now imagine Umberto Eco’s quote with a major twist.

“It is a revolution (um, actually, it even has sexual aspects: beyond things like this, there are all those wannabe jihadi wives who travel there, too): a young French jihadi meets a Syrian jihadi or a young Saudi jihadi meets a British jihadi and … they get married (with or without “love” as such). And they become… (take a guess) as do their children.”

It may feel as twisted as this re-interpretation by Perfect Circle of the Beatles’ Imagine but the Islamic State is indeed nothing less than a competing integration project. It is in competition not only with the EU of course but with everything else in the post-colonial, formerly Euro-centric game of states, borders, inter- and supranational institutions, citizenship and human rights. Its effectiveness as an integration project may pale in comparison with the European project, and it alienates many in the process. But that is still a relevant dimension of measurement right there.

How many Islamic State babies are there by now? This could be an intriguing question.

“Stay classy, stay hustling”

by fpman

For example, this – see the title above – may qualify as a typical message carried by the hot new Instagram wave from Iran, via the account “Rich Kids of Tehran.” It has in its focus the lives of, hold your breath, the rich kids of Tehran. It’s all the rage these days, apparently, in some circles – potentially a different kind of rage in others, be it bling or bikinis that happen to enrage the latter more.

There is plenty of both (bling and bikinis) in Iran, even in a time of sanctions.


BBC Trending has a piece on the subject expressing what may be easily mistaken for slight disappointment at the fact that in this case Iran does not readily conform to the expectation that it would quickly and harshly deal with the people involved for their liberal ways.

A “classy” conclusion is reached where the author quips:

“It seems they [the Rich Kids of Tehran] do not fear repercussions from the Iranian authorities, who have been known to pursue other young people for engaging in subversive activities.”

To which we respond:

Dear BBC Trending,

We understand the point you are trying to make. However, as you may have observed, the Islamic State is another trending topic these days. Complaining of the inadequate efficiency of religious law enforcement as a manifestation of elite privileges seems to be slightly out of touch when viewed from the greater part of the universe outside of that political entity.

Spread the love,

The Patrimony

How an Islamic State media officer views the issue of family

by fpman

The following dialogue is heard in the second part of a documentary shot by Vice News in Islamic State territory recently. It takes place inside a car where, while waiting, the journalist, Medyan Dairieh, is asking questions in Arabic from a representative of the Islamic State, by the name of Abu Mosa, essentially a media officer — or Dairieh’s minder.

Medyan Dairieh: “The war has been going on for a while. Don’t you have recreation time that you spend with the family?”

Abu Mosa: “To be honest, no. In my case, no. In the last few Eid celebrations, I told my children that I’ll not buy any sweets for Eid until the children of Daraa and Homs are able to celebrate, too. I don’t return home for pleasure, I only go when it’s important or I’m sick. I don’t, I don’t go at all.”

Medyan Dairieh: “Does that mean that you live for war all the time?”

Abu Mosa: “Yes. The family, honestly, is the least important thing. There is a higher purpose. No one would defend Muslims if we all sat at home with the family.”

Abu Mosa is no top decision-maker, of course, but he is a representative of a recently declared state (or political entity, to use a less loaded term). While his person may initially make this seem like an off-topic post for this blog, the subject he is talking about, and the similarity of thinking across the Islamic State’s jihadi leadership — given that their whole world view is in effect about demanding and expecting homogeneity of thinking, or the unity of the umma, i.e. the “community of the believers” — makes Abu Mosa’s comments significant on a larger scale.

This is a peculiar case — in reference back to our first post here where we said politicians having family comes with both good and bad sides in terms of political implications. Here the readiness on the part of at least some of the people in question to disregard even the bond to their own families, along with much else, in the name of their “higher purpose,” is… concerning. That, probably, is the scientifically accurate expression of what it is.

By the way, the documentary discussed here has five parts and you find the first of the five here.