The Allure of Extremist Islam

The recent disappearance of three teenage British Muslim girls, now believed to have traveled to Syria to join ISIS, has re-ignited a discussion about women’s (and girls’) involvement with extremist Islamic groups. The explanations for women’s attraction to ISIS and other like-minded groups often fluctuate between two extremes. On one hand, these women are characterized as naive victims of powerful men. On the other, the active recruitment of women is seen as a new kind of jihadi military strategy that has little to do with Islam. This post critically examines depictions of extremist Muslim women, focusing on the multiple, often conflicting reasons women may be attracted to groups like ISIS.

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