Isis – the women unveiled

24 Nov

Last night Channel 4 screened a documentary on Isis recruitment of British Muslim women. A young woman calling herself Aisha spends a year engaging Islamists, graduating from Twitter and FB through text and phone call to live meetings. She’s in niqab and hijab not only for those meetings but for TV cameras too. We never see her face – she’s a spy and must act accordingly – but, the meetings being women only, do see those of the  Islamists.

At her last meeting she is outed. A senior woman asks politely but firmly to search her bag for the group’s peace of mind. Aisha, distressed, protests the unseemliness of the request. The bag, whose contents would show she is filming, is not seized but she is ejected. It could have gone far worse for her.

If this is for real Aisha is brave and lucky but, while MI5 will be studying footage as recent as last month, the documentary reveals little we didn’t know. Most striking is the banality of the meetings. The unveiled women greet one another as though at a Tupperware party; all smiles, compliments and small talk. As business gets underway, toddlers play on the floor. The group leader talks most; her message simple, her tone calm. It is the duty of every Muslim woman to serve Allah, even if that conflicts with ‘man made’ law or parental will. British Muslim women have a golden opportunity to go to Syria and join the Caliphate as it strikes at the kuffar. She refers to ‘the filthy Jews’ while the film as a whole shows many allusions to ‘the west’s war on Islam’.

Isis: the Women Unveiled is available on C4 catch up for the next 29 days.


I can’t agree with those who reduce Islamist violence to the teachings of the Q’ran, or even to perverse interpretations of it. I part company too with their mirror opposites, liberal denialists unable to distinguish criticism and mockery of Islam from (racist?) attacks on its followers. My last post quoted one zerohoursuni, a Guardian commenter of rare wisdom. To those who cite Islamist atrocities in Indonesia, Nigeria and Mumbei as evidence that talk of western rapacity in the middle east is but rank apologetics, he responds:

Most of the people’s [sic] of the middle east are Muslim. While the west’s 100 year exploitation of the region was never an attack on Islam – Washington and London couldn’t give a flying fuck if they were animists or flat earthers so long as profit margins were good – it was easily painted as such, hence easy to join up to other issues presentable as attacks on Islam – Kashmir, Myanmar, Southern Thailand.

We at Steel City Scribblings hold no truck with profanity but otherwise concur. We also applaud the fact zerohoursuni then turns to the denialists:

I don’t say Islam isn’t a big part of this. It certainly is.

As are the rebelliousness and quest for cultural identity of youth in general, non white western youth in particular. Ditto widening perception of moral bankruptcy in the west as inequality and shallow consumerism rule at home, while injustice festers in Palestine and US recklessness unleashes homicidal chaos. But faith-based vengefulness – encoded, however inconsistently, in seventh century texts – adds something frighteningly new to the mix. Zerohoursuni is right to speak of western policies, especially but not exclusively in the middle east, being easily painted as anti-Islamic by design. This is why bombs on Syria are as manna to Isis.

(Incidentally, a recurring theme at the meetings shown in the documentary was the cowardice of the kuffar who bomb our brothers and sisters from above but dare not set their boots on the ground. The charge is not without truth, and Isis propagandists have the skills to milk it dry.)

Blair, Cameron, Obama et al can profess commonality with ‘true’ Muslims till blue in the face: it will cut no ice with young Muslims (how many is unclear) armed now with certainty of purpose and a view of their ‘moderate’ elders as sleepwalkers lost in the world of the infidel. A core strategy of Isis is to remove the middle ground and in that it is succeeding handsomely. On social media I see incoherent rage and childish braggadocio. In our leaders I see stupidity incarnate. As a Steve Bell cartoon put it this week: don’t just stand there – bomb something!

The drivers of Isis are several and combine with multiplier effect. All three Abrahamic faiths give licence to violence on the infidel, with apostasy a form of treason. (That is not surprising when Man, needing social glue and upgraded moral codes for the harsher and more divisive social conditions following the neolithic revolutions, creates God in his own image: jealous, insecure and given to appalling tantrums.) If all factors in this lethal cocktail, a century in the making, were to pertain with just this one difference – that Jews or Christians happened to be the exploited, Muslim States the exploiters (regardless of whether the exploitation was by design anti Judaic or anti Christian) – who could doubt that Christianist or Judaicist terrorists would find divine justification in their own sacred texts?

6 Replies to “Isis – the women unveiled

  1. “who could doubt that Christianist or Judaicist terrorists would find divine justification in their own sacred texts?” But they do…

    • Judaic terror to a degree in the illegal settlements, Christian terror not for a century or three; neither on the scale we are speaking of here.

    • Wars have material drivers but are given idealist rationales. In the modern age freedom and democracy are the excuses of choice. What’s different here is the explicit declaration of holy war on grounds that the west has waged war on Islam. (Incorrect. Western capital has spent a century exploiting millions of Muslims not BECAUSE they are Muslims but in the interests of profit.)

      That declaration of holy war is quite distinct from the more generalised claim, common to warring nations, to have ‘God on our side’ in the sense of a deity approving, say, Europe’s colonial land grabs in Africa and Asia, its internecine wars of 1914-18 and 1939-45, or Orthodox Jewish rights to build on Palestinian lands not even Tel Aviv claims for Israel.

      I’d say the distinction – between waging war FOR God, and waging war on other grounds but with God’s approval – is significant. It seems to me that, as “incoherent rage … childish braggadocio … and stupidity incarnate” dominate the discourse in media both mainstream and social, it’s vital we sharpen our thinking.

  2. Religion (belief in a supreme being whose teachings are of peace and love towards one’s fellow men) is not the cause of war. NO.. The major cause of conflict is the diversity of faiths and the man made laws attached to them.
    . Cruelty, death and destruction have all been caused by arrant of fanaticism under the cloak of faith. When will it ever end?

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