Fighting the Master Cult of Jihad
Ben Barber’s story, “Fighting the Master Cult of Jihad,” The Huffinton Post, 24 January 2015 (http: www.huffpost.com/ben-barber/fighting-the-master-cult-_b_6731908.html), identifies Jihadism as one of those high-conflict new religious movements (NRM) that entices the disconnected or disenfranchise and then uses mind manipulation to recruit and retain followers.
Barber describes a situation in New Mexico where several thousand gathered at a ‘counter-culture assembly. Their intent was to spend some communal time with others, but when the ‘guru’ arrived he demeaned and humiliated the ‘hippies.’ These ‘hippies’ left the mainstream to be self-governing, self-sufficient and self-reliant and yet they were now willing to become totally dependent upon, what Barber calls, “the faker.” Barber explains that many of the followers remained in intellectual bondage for decades, because like the recruits of the Hare Krishna, they were societies most vulnerable. The Jihadi also target the loners and despondent within and outside of the Muslim global community, says Barber. They too berate and belittle the recruits; promising power and strength if they are willing to reject everything from their present lives.
One Jihadi ‘gurus’ was deported from the United States for attempting to have his recruits take over a small Orgeon town. Although he was deported to India he immediately set up another ashram and although Barber tried to interview him, he was barred from attending the daily assembly and those that he was able to interview were young, insecure, wealthy Europeans and Americans trying to find ‘truth.’ Over loud speakers Barber heard the message and found that psychological pressure used by other cult leaders was also used here. However, with the Jihads playing on the emotions and thoughts of the marginalized was taken to another level as he was telling the recruits are told to kill and be killed and to commence global war between Islam and the West. Barber implores psychologists to support the vulnerable such that the Jihadist movement is crushed. He believes that the way to defeat the Jihads is to ask the millions of decent, hard-working Muslims in Western societies how they deal with the trauma of racism, unemployment and how they continue to find pride in their own resilience.
In my opinion, Jihadism, like most NRM’s, has redefined what it is to be Muslim and in doing so attracts more non-Muslims than Muslims to its sectarian movement. I agree with Barber when he suggests that Jihadism is simply another form of mind manipulation where the weakest within society, in attempting to find purpose and belonging, willing give up everything including their lives and the lives of others. However, I believe that Jihads are not the only ones to blame for this profound injustice. Society at large must accept some of the responsibility for ostracizing, bullying and rejecting people because they are labelled different. According to Joji Sakurai (2015) of the YaleGlobal in his article title, Alienated Muslim Youth Seek Purpose, Thrills in Joining Jihad, the reason why so many are being recruited by the Jihads is because of the social condition in which they live. Society must ensure that all citizens are accepted and feel safe which I believe might be the best means by which the Jihads and all other movements that prey on the vulnerable can be defeated.