The recent axe attack in Germany, committed by a 17 year old Afghan refugee, highlights one aspect of the refugee crisis I have yet to see discussed in the media – extremism vs terrorism.
On any given day, virtually anyone you encounter in Afghanistan, even those fighting alongside our own troops, is an extremist. Through our civilized, western lens, most Afghans would fit the definition. They are religious zealots, for the most part. After more than a decade of U.S. intervention there, little has changed in that regard. Changing that wasn’t part of our mandate.
In Afghanistan, being a religious zealot is fairly normal. That doesn’t mean you are a terrorist, however, or even a Taliban supporter. It is simply how they think and believe. We call it extremism but they call it religion. Insult their religion or disobey the rules laid out in the Quran and they are almost as likely to attack you as any member of the insurgency.
Honor killings, extreme punishments for what we westerners consider minor offenses, and the murder of those who insult their prophet is normal life for them. They bring that culture with them when they flee the violence in their homelands.
By the way, a 17 year old Afghan is not a child. A 17 year old wasn’t considered a child in our own culture not so long ago. It seems as we become more civilized, the age of adulthood keep rising. In the U.S., I believe the age is around 28. Laughable, really.
When you bring someone from a culture like that found in Afghanistan and drop them into the middle of the modern world, the assault on their senses, as well as their sensibilities, must be traumatic. Culture shock would be an understatement. Virtually everything they see violates the tenets of their beliefs and defies their upbringing. They are thrust into a world of miniskirts, bra-less summer wear, nude beaches, and debauchery the likes of which they have never seen and didn’t know existed. We call that Saturday. They call it evil and sinful. They sometimes react violently.
The only thing necessary for your typical Afghan to go berserk and murder someone is an insult to their religion. That’s it. They are extremists by any Western scale. To them, they’re just muslim. The line between extremist and terrorist is very thin. An insulted extremist isn’t likely to blow himself up in a cafe during lunch but he just might grab a machete and murder the people he believes are responsible for the offense.
For him, it’s just Saturday. Or, Tuesday. For the western world, thanks to massive migrations from these countries, it’s a threat we will now have to endure for decades to come.