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Pakistan Observer

Published Date: May 22, 2012


Speakers at a book-launching ceremony were of the view on Monday that extremism was nothing to do with religion of Islam and rather gender-dimensions and masculinity were deriving force for the suicide bombers. PPP MNA and Chairperson of National Commission for Human Development Dr Nafisa Shah said that the religious dimension of terrorism was shifting to gender dimensions implying that religious affiliation doesn’t necessarily lead to extremism.
“It’s men’s honour and desire to prove himself that leads him to violent activities,” she said while speaking at the book launching ceremony of a book titled “Gender Based Explosions: the Nexus between Muslim Masculinities, Jihadist Islamism and Terrorism” organized by Sustainable Development Policy institute (SDPI) here. Ejaz Haider, Senior Advisor SDPI moderated the discussion.
Nafisa Shah said that the book gave a fresh insight into counterterrorism debate while focusing on male ego-centric behavior in conflicts.
The author of the book, Dr Maleeha Aslam, the fellow at Cambridge Commonwealth Society and Member Wolfson College, Cambridge, United Kingdom, in her speech, said that the counterterrorism efforts needed to move away from militarism based approach to people-centered, gendered sensitive and sustainable interventions.
Dr. Maleeha was of the view that masculinity dimension has been under-researched with relation to global security and terrorism.
“In Muslim societies, socio-economic and political oppression coupled with culturally idealized gender constructs, influence men towards militant Islamism and terrorism”. She underlined that counterterrorism policies exacerbate the upheaval in Muslim masculinities when men are brought under surveillance and racial profiling where their honour and kinship affiliations, such as plight of Palestinians and drone attacks related grievances in FATA, are threatened.
She shared the highlights of her study which revealed that religious affiliation had no direct linkages with the possibility of one offering themselves for jihad or militarism. She quoted her study which says that most of practicing Muslims are against suicide bombings. The study highlights that mostly men idealizing the masculine bravery traits, will offer themselves for jihad.
The study also reveals that men who have keenness in weapons and who articulate the manhood as thrill-seeking, adventure-based identity will offer themselves for jihad. She warned that Jihadist Islamism will grow rapidly, as protest masculinity across the Muslim world and grievances cannot be removed through development initiatives but mainly by stopping violent means of action.
On the basis of her research findings, the she recommended dealing with jihadist Islamism and terrorism as gender based, and making counterterrorism and de-radicalization policies gender sensitive, moulding these to engage with the troubled and troublesome aspects of production of masculinities in Muslim contexts. Dr Abid Qaiyum Suleri, Executive Director, SDPI urged on to find the nexus between masculinities and militarism. He said, the debate on terrorism must go beyond Islam, arguing that, there are vast commonalties between Hindu, Sikh, Christian, Jewish and Muslim masculinities which must also be studied.
Dr. Suleri advocated of investing on human development and said, “Any compromise on individual security undermines the state security and becomes a threat to regional, and global security as well.”