Ed West

Isis’ European recruits are made by alienation

Isis' European recruits are made by alienation
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Sweden’s latest attempts to integrate its migrant population have suffered one or two hiccups after it was learned that staff at its ‘assimilation guide service’ were recruiting people into the Islamic State. A partial success, then.

According to a recent BBC report, the Scandinavian country now tops the European jihadi league, although others give Belgium that honour.

Presumably all those Swedes joining the Islamic State have been radicalised by their country’s relentless military aggression; after all we’re always being told British foreign policy is to blame for our extremism problem.

The number of Isis fighters from around the world illustrates that the Iraq-Syria conflict is the first war in the age of free movement, with Islamists attracting recruits from the alienated of the world. It is a war that mixes the ultra-modern, medieval and ancient, with social media being used to spread beheading pictures and gruesome executions in Raqqa that resemble those in ancient Rome. This theatre of the grotesque is then splashed across websites for a western audience that has a morbid fascination with the group.

Mass movement plays a key part: immigration is a mutually alienating process for both natives and migrants, and it is possible that the larger the migrant population in Europe gets, the more men – proportionately – will be attracted to Islamism, because increased ghettoisation (itself made more possible by modern technology) will increase alienation. Where do young people turn then, but to a fashionable group of open border fanatics?

Part of the alienation is caused by the division between traditional and progressive cultures, a problem that becomes more acute the more ‘progressive’, ie decadent, the western country.

Sweden, which holds a world record of 200 years without military action, is perhaps the most western of western countries, with very high levels of sexual equality (even for European standards), a strong welfare culture and a passionate belief in the post-Christian religion of universalism and human equality. Its immigrants come from some of the most clannish, particularist and sexually conservative societies on earth – what could go wrong?

Written byEd West

Ed West is the author of The Diversity Illusion, 1215 and All That and is writing a series of books on medieval history

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