“Well someone has to have the bravery to take it to the real world, and I guess that has to be me”. This is what Dylann Roof, the 21-year-old man accused of killing nine people in Charleston, wrote on his website. It was a sort of racist manifesto, which identified the black people as the enemy. In the pictures published on the website, Roof appeared to be holding the gun then used for the massacre, burning the American flag and waving instead Southerner flags, as the one that still stands in front of the institutional venues in South Carolina.
Unfortunately, the issue of race is back as protagonist of our century, and the gains made in the ‘900 seem about to be swept away by new fears and mistrust. Object of the attack are once again “blacks”, both Americans and Africans, equated – although with great differences – by a rising and unjustified hate all around the globe.
Yet there is another aspect of this American story that is even more disturbing than racism, and even more global. Something that completes and amplifies it enough to make one shiver: the young age of the killer. Dylann Roof is just 21 years old, and he is as loaded of hate as to perpetuate a massacre. The same hate that leads many young Westerners to leave their countries of origin and go to the territories managed by ISIS, to embrace the jihadist cause until death – their own or of the innocent ones who will face them.
As the story of Manuel, who was born in North West Germany and, after converting, became a foreign fighter and reached the Islamic state. Manuel, or rather Abu Mus’ab, then exploded in April in a suicide attack in Baghdad.
Or as a French girl arrested by the Turkish police in the southeastern province of Sanliurfa. The woman, identified as Sonia Belayati, 22, arrived in March in Istanbul and then moved to Syria, where she stayed until the beginning of June. There she joined with a high-ranking Islamic fighter, before parting and ending up in a jihadist prison for about a month, then she was released.
Just two examples, among the more than 16 thousand foreign fighters from more than 90 countries that joined the forces of the Islamic State by the end of 2014. This was stated by the annual report on terrorism of the US State Department, which emphasizes that these numbers “exceed the rate of those who traveled to Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, Yemen or Somalia at any time in the last 20 years”.
Not surprisingly strong concern was expressed by many governments about the phenomenon of enrollment in Europe of young students by Isis. The apprehension was initially focused only on Russia, where the phenomenon seemed limited to the areas of the Caucasus Muslim majority. Then it exploded everywhere: in England, in America, in Germany, France … even in Italy.
But this is not only about theaters of war. There is intolerance also against those who are running away from the horror of persecution, and against those living in Roma camps out of what the crime has been making money for years, and we often forget about this. A business done on the skin of those victims, who now have become the target of intolerance.
In a world where everything seems to be relative, the risk is that even human life will be considered so. Without founding values, society destroys itself, and who are paying the brunt of this situation are the younger ones. With no values, or guides, they are attracted by what may appear net. A report by the US Department terrorism stressed that the Islamic State has been able to successfully use social media to spread its propaganda and to proselytize exactly the younger ones.
The claim that teenagers girls go to Syria merely to become the “brides of jihad” in territory controlled by ISIS would be “simplistic and undermines efforts to prevent radicalization of other young women,” says the Institute for Strategic Dialogue and the International Center for the study of radicalization at King’s College London, in a study on the phenomenon. “They are not taken seriously,” one of the authors, Melanie Smith, said. Girls “see themselves as pilgrims who are involved in the mission of transforming the region into an Islam Utopia”.
Christianity has handed down the term ‘pilgrim’ as a synonym for peace-bringer. Today this message is distorted, and the term is used even to identify death-bringers. If we want to have a chance to save our youth, this war cannot be fought with bombs, but by bringing back the values at the core of education. No discounts or relativist drifts.
Translation provided by Maria Rosaria Mastropaolo