By Hugh Graham.
With the discovery that a fourth Canadian, Ryan Enderi, is wanted in the Islamist assault on the Algerian gas plant at Amenas, the astonishment is unlikely to die down any time soon. In the light of the last hundred odd years of history, of course, it’s less surprising. Because it’s not even about militant Islam. It’s about something much older. Enderi, Ali Medlej and Xisto Katsiroubas all came from London Ontario, all had few local bonds, indeed little adherence to family or community. All felt isolated and disenchanted before they finished high school. That itself should be no more surprising than their resort to militant Islam.
Leaving aside their immigrant backgrounds, there’s already a hard truth: social disconnection is as old as history and it’s getting worse. Traditional bonds have been weakening everywhere for decades. For most people, the gradual increase in discontinuity in personal life is taken for granted. But nor can the old foundations in physical proximity and lasting friendships, in other word, “roots,” be replaced by social media. It’s a lonely society. Imagine how bad it can be for young, second generation immigrants who feel confined by the ethnic world of their parents but find no home in Canadian society.
So why have the media generated an atmosphere of earnest perplexity and mystery around four, Southern Ontario Islamists? Why do people go on chiming in with the zeit geist: about militant Islam, about broken homes, about stifling multicultural enclaves?