This week, our local German regional state-run TV network (HR)....did up a report over a curious topic....radical Islam, but with a twist.
Some folks in Frankfurt sat down and reviewed issues which they might be able to influence to a different outcome. The organization ended up with the name VPN (Violence Prevention Network). Their chief target? Radical Muslims.
Naturally, you'd look at this and question how exactly they'd function.
What we can say, based on the reporting by HR is that they've been up for roughly a hundred days, and had around fifty to sixty German-Islamic families call in to note their kids....their children....their teenagers....were being seduced in some way by friends or radical associates. The fear by the family was that the son or daughter was going to run off to Syria and commit themselves to jihad. The Islamic family....simply didn't desire for this to happen.
This one admission carries a fair amount of weight. What it says is that a lot of Muslims simply don't buy into the radical side, and have gotten themselves into the western side of Islam or simply being identified to the religion but non-practicing. And they really don't want their kids jerked around, lied to, or killed in the name of some religious practice.
The VPN folks aren't funded or manned to a huge extent....so the best they could do is handle around twenty-five of the cases. They note that there are face-to-face meetings....social media talk.....and efforts to bring focus to the kid's life and change their motivation.
The odd thing in this story is the triggers which bring kids to think radical Islam: marginal education, one simple view of perceiving things, no future, and a missing father figure.
It's a curious group of triggers, because it's the same things that you'd see in a cult-like situation. Cults like a us-versus-them situation. Cults prefer a special status for it's leader or creator. Cults and their leadership are not responsible to any country or government or law. Cults like to use excessive strategies and unquestioning commitment to it's cause/leaders/purpose in life. Cults insist that skepticism and resistance be discouraged, and if required.....severely punished (to include death usually). Cults practice mind-altering practices, from chants to mediation to help suppress hesitation about the cult. Cults like to mange your lifestyle....telling you the practices acceptable and those unacceptable. Cults like to claim they are elite and for a special crowd, while the unbelievers are not in the elite club or special. Cults like to manipulate shame and stigma to ensure their membership follows the rules.
Statistics for the VPN success story? This is the part of the story which can't be told in any detail because it's been barely a hundred days of effort, and only affecting one small group. It's not a Hessen-wide program....it's just being played out in Frankfurt....to a limited audience.
You can stand there and look over this program....basically an intervention program, like you'd do for an alcoholic, a drug-user, or some cult-member. The family knows the direction that the kid is going into, and has decided that they don't want the end-result. So an intervention occurs. The counselor talks to the kid....shows a world with more than black-and-white....demonstrates options.....focuses on free-thinking.....and puts the kid onto some path with more educational possibilities.
A radical approach on radicals? Maybe. But maybe this was the right way to view the problem in the first place. We didn't have intervention existing 1,400 years ago....nor did we have the ability to recognize the attributes of a cult-like mentality that might hijack a person's life and lead them on a trail to death or misery.