Deeyah Khan

UK 2015, 50min.

radikalisationNRK is screening the documentary Jihad on September 28, the latest film from former artist and documentary maker Deeyah Khan. Through interviews with young, British Muslims, the film depicts how the often frustrated youths fall for jihadism as it is interpreted by some religious leaders. «I want to show the human side of people who are often treated as monsters, » said Deeyah Khan to Modern Times. «This does not mean that I defend what they have done. But I believe the unmistakable regret felt by many of those who defected these groups, have a far greater impact than any condemnation I could ever muster. »

Some will recognise the Norwegian-Pakistani director as the artist Depeeka, who saw success in Norway during the 1990s. In 2013, she received an Emmy award for her breakthrough film Banaz – a love story, which focused on honour killings.

Jihad premiered on the British TV-channel ITV in June to mixed reviews. Some Muslims reacted with panic, whilst others described it as a Jihadism recruitment film. To Khan, it was important to enable people with different experiences linked to extremism speak. «I let the people in the film talk, and show their complex stories – stories which make us understand what happened prior to their violent and extremist actions, » she states. «Despite personally finding violent jihadism evil and disgusting, I spent two years interviewing current and former jihadists in Britain and Europe. I did this because I feel we need to learn more about what actually drives young people into this. This way we can become more efficient in the fight again radicalisation. We must be better at reducing the number of young people who join these violent groups. Radicalisation is about pain,» says Khan.


Exclusion. Much of the film’s work focused on gaining entry to and the trust of the people she wanted to interview. One of these was Abu Munatsir, long known as the «Godfather of jihadism». For a long time, Munatsir functioned as Bradford’s central Muslim leader. He used his position to incite to Jihad, and enticed many young men to enlist. Kahn explains that the feelings of exclusion and alienation is a fundamental reason for young people becoming vulnerable to recruitment to extremist groups. She feels that the media must shoulder part of the blame for many Muslims in Western society feel excluded. «One of the most frustrating things about the media, is their constant insistence of promoting some of the most extreme voices as typical Muslim. They invite them to debates, knowing fully well that the extremists will utter something provoking, and thus making the debate even more sensational. Every time they do this, they reinforce negative stereotypes, and reject the progressive voices of this environment. Truth is, many Muslims are not interested in either politics or religion. Most Muslims in Norway are like all other Norwegians – more interested in repaying their loans and make sure their children are doing well in school, than establishing an Islamic state. But the media prefer to focus on the conservative and extreme, something which both promotes bigotry and gives free advertising to extremist viewpoints,» explains Khan.

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