What Drives Young Men to Embrace Religious Extremism in Pakistan?

Andy Heintz interviews Pervez Hoodbhoy in New Internationalist:

What are the biggest reasons driving young Pakistani men to embrace religious extremism?

Biased education poisons minds. The curriculum, textbooks, teachers and exams all act to create an ‘us’ versus ‘them’ mentality. Islam is shown as under siege by the evil West as well as India. And then there’s the electronic and print media – mostly privately owned – which drips with piety and with conspiracy theories that attribute all our ills to India, Israel and the United States. It seizes upon their every fault and then multiplies by ten. So a mindset is created wherein young people imagine that they, and their religion, are beset by enemies lurking behind every bush. The West is excoriated for being selective and hypocritical – which it surely is. But there’s no introspection, no explanation for how we went wrong. Ask a student why East Pakistan broke off to become Bangladesh and you’ll get the pat answer: it was a Hindu conspiracy. They won’t know of the genocide West Pakistan carried out there in 1971.

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