A street scene in ``Waithood``
If there has been a theme in some of my recent posts, it`s about the importance of religion as a motive for human actions.
Twitter today introduced me to a Somalian entrepeneur/activist named Mohamed Ali who gave a TED talk in 2013, found here.
The TED talk is more like an inspirational secular sermon than it is cogent analysis, but it has the merit of limited a speaker to a few powerful idea. Ali`s central idea is ``waithood``, meaning the limbo of economic hopelessness by which young people are left hopeless and ripe for manipulation by terrorist groups like Somalia`s Al Shabab. Here`s an excerpt.
It is the story of the disenfranchised,unemployed urban youthwho sparks riots in Johannesburg,sparks riots in London,who reaches out for something other than waithood.For young people, the promise of the city,the big city dream is that of opportunity,of jobs, of wealth,but young people are not sharing in the prosperity of their cities.Often it's youth who suffer from the highest unemployment rates.By 2030, three out of five people living in citieswill be under the age of 18.If we do not include young peoplein the growth of our cities,if we do not provide them opportunities,the story of waithood,the gateway to terrorism, to violence, to gangs,will be the story of cities 2.0.And in my city of birth, Mogadishu,70 percent of young people suffer from unemployment.70 percent don't work,don't go to school.They pretty much do nothing.
I agree with this argument to some extent. I am sure that slums and refugee camps breed terrorism in ways that affluent suburbs do not. Giving people a sense of ownership in their lives, neighbourhoods, cities and societies is undoubtedly the way forward.
But does Ali`s argument explain why someone would want to become a suicide bomber? In his scenario, what happens in the young person`s mind between when he is recruited from Waithood and when he blows himself or herself up? What of the educated and relatively privileged, like the young Saudi hijackers of 9/11?
It seems to me that there is more to terrorism and fanaticism than a materialist analysis can account for.