The condemned

There will be no sympathy amongst Muslims on social media today for three British teenage girls allegedly running for their lives from those they once thought they were obliged to support. No, instead they must be mocked and showered with scorn. This is how we deal with our children today.

But it is our community and its leaders who have failed teenagers like these. Twenty years ago, youngsters like this were being harangued with the notion that it is an individual obligation to work for the re-establishment of the caliphate.

Today’s youth, unfortunately, are being harangued to accept that the caliphate has been established and that it is an obligation to join it. If you know little of your religion, those arguments can sound convincing: they are couched in pseudo-legal terms and seem to appeal to indisputable sources.

Many of us probably remember being bullied into agreeing to these aims when we were younger. But back then we did not have the amplified voice of social media resonating every waking minute of the day. Strangers were not grooming us on Twitter. We did not have access to video-on-demand, searing us with propaganda.

Some of us are still waiting for our celebrated advocacy groups to speak out. To jettison their all-consuming PR agenda and actually reach out to these youngsters with a word of advice and warning. But listen: did you hear it? That deafening silence.

Collectively we have failed teenagers like these. And that is all the more evident on social media today: we do not see them as adolescents who could have gone on to study A-Levels and perhaps enter Higher Education, taking the time to grow into confident young adults. We have turned them into instant adults, to be married off or condemned.

But it’s we who stand condemned.

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