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Policymakers need to understand what drives women to radicalisation

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BRITISH-born ISIS bride Shamima Begum and American Hoda Muthana are a hot topic at home and abroad, their faces splashed across newspapers and television screens.

For governments and the media, the focus has been on questions of revoking citizenship. Far less attention has been afforded to the reasons why these women adopted Jihadi ideology and left their homes and families behind in the first place.

As a young teenager that had freshly migrated to Australia in the 1990s, I found myself caught up in Jihadi ideology.

In my case, it was social exclusion and feelings of alienation in my new surroundings that pushed me down this path.

SEE ALSO: What makes a mother blow up her own child?

Many young people from migrant families experience the isolation that I went through. Language barriers, cultural and religious differences, and the restrictions placed on them from families can all frustrate their ability to assimilate into their new surroundings.

My parents were not conservative in Pakistan but became so after moving to Australia. The change in their thinking was the influence of the Pakistani Muslim community in Australia, our new social circle.

My only outlet was to extend my relationships within the Muslim community. I wanted to please my parents and my society, therefore, I started becoming more religious – more religious, even, than my parents expected.

The pathways to radicalisation are different for everyone but our thinking is similar. Restrictions imposed by immigrant parents can be one of the contributing factors, as well as a fear of losing cultural and religious identity.

It’s important to understand that terrorists know the cultural challenges Muslim women face in these circumstances and they know how to make us feel empowered.

Empowerment was the key reason I started attending Salafi Jihadi sessions near Lakemba mosque. I was led to believe that I was following an ideology which was superior to other schools of thought of Islam. The messages........

© Asian Correspondent