Life Is More Beautiful Than Paradise: A Jihadist's own story

Life Is More Beautiful Than Paradise: A Jihadist's own story

by KhaledalBerry (Author)

Synopsis

In 1986, when this autobiography opens, the author is a typical fourteen-year-old boy in Asyut in Upper Egypt. Attracted at first by the image of a radical Islamist group as strong Muslims,' his involvement develops until he finds himself deeply committed to its beliefs and implicated in its activities. This ends when, as he leaves the university following a demonstration, he is arrested. Prison, a return to life on the outside, and attending Cairo University all lead to Khaled al-Berry's eventual alienation from radical Islam.

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More Information

Format: Paperback
Pages: 192
Publisher: Haus Publishing
Published: 01 Nov 2009

ISBN 10: 1906598460
ISBN 13: 9781906598464

Media Reviews
'The memoir reaches the core of how fanatics - sects of any kind - draw in conceited youngsters by essentially appealing to a naive hunger for self-sacrifice.' -- Alex Duval Smith The Independent 20100101 'This is the autobiographical account of the author's journey into extremism. In 1986, Khaled Al Berry was a typical fourteen-year-old boy in Asyut in Upper Egypt. Attracted at first by the image of a radical Islamist group as 'strong Muslims', his involvement develops until he finds himself deeply committed to its beliefs and implicated in its activities. This ends when, as he leaves the university following a demonstration, he is arrested. Prison, a return to life on the outisde, and attending Cairo University all lead to Khaled Al Berry's alientation from radical Islam. This book opens a window onto the mind of an extremist who turns out to be disarmingly like many other clever adolscents bears witness to a history with whose reverberations we continue to live. It serves as a guide for the reader to the movement's debates and preoccupations, motives and intention.' The Middle East 'VARIOUS reasons - such as US foreign policy, social, economic, and political factors, and the decline of Islam itself - have been given to explain why so many 'angry young Muslims' turn to Islamic militancy. This book is the story of one such young man and his adoption, and later rejection, of radical Islam. Khaled AI-Berry describes his life as a teenager in the city of Asyut in Egypt during the 1980s. Angered by President Sadat's Camp David Accord and the recognition of Israel as a state, concerned at the westernisation of his country and influenced by militant youths he met at school, he joined the radical Islamist group Jama'a Islamiya. Attending classes it held, he learnt to despise Jews, Christians, and people of any other faith, and pronounced music, association with women, and other activities as haram, or forbidden. In a gripping narrative, AI-Berry writes of his involvement in a terrorist group, his arrest by the authorities, and his experiences in a government prison. On his release, the love of his family and his own study of the Qur'an led him to reject extremist views. As he states, the 'scales were lifted' from 'the eyes of a young man raised on illusions'. AI-Berry now works as a journalist in London, where he has been living since 1999. Although it is compelling, some readers may find this book uncomfortable, even distasteful. Throughout, AI-Berry describes in detail how he was a 'victim of obsessive lusts and fears'; his addiction to masturbation; and his liking for Western and Indian films where he 'watched the bodies of the women as they shook'. The Church Times 20100205 Captivating and exciting, Life is More Beautiful than Paradise provides invaluable insights into the jihadist world-view, a view that argues that it is right and everyone else (including the majority of Muslims worldwide) is wrong; the view that believes that jihadists are the only group who will escape the fires of hell, because they are faithful in clinging to an intolerant and distorted view of Islam.' -- Dr Simon Valentine 'It is a question asked with urgency by Muslims and non-Muslims alike: why are the young so attracted to Islamic extremism? In this book KhaIed al-Berry offers a rare perspective on the qnestion - that of a former member of Jama'a Islamia, a notorious Egyptian Islamist group implicated in the assassination of Egyptian president AnwaraI-Sadat in 1981 and whose leader, Omar Abdel**Rahman, remains imprisoned in the US for his role in the World Trade Centre bombing in 1993. Right from the start, al**Berry explains a comext few others think of when approaching fundementalism: 'I was nor attracted to the radicals' brand of religion; I was attracted to them as people. I was 14 and the first time I knew one of them, we were playing football and he was a very decent person who took care of people around him. We built up a relationship as human beings. Then we started talking about religion and going to the mosque.' Having been gently introduced into a circle of young zealots, he was then 'taught' that 'Islam means you can't argue about text because the text is what God said.' By this logic al-Berry and his comrades became convinced that violence was, well, logical. It was that simple. And that dangerous. The first acts of violence, however, weren't committed against Western society but against those closer to home - first other fundamentalists, with sheiks administering bloody beatings to other sheiks, and then Christian Ehyptians. But al-Berry was still young, so his religious enthusiasm was tempered by that universal leveller, his hormones. Having given up watching television (all those half-dressed women) and football (in which professional players display their 'lesser pudenda'. ie their upper legs), he spent his time peeping at and fantasising about his lemale neighbours. Eventually, as a young medical student. he was arrested for haranguing female and males students during lectures at a local university for the sins of sitting, working and talking with each other. Ironically, he moved from Asyut to Cairo University to evade state security seeking to persecute him for his Islamist beliefs, only to confront a moral cross-roads at this new seat of learning. 'I found people who set up literature meetings and I staned thinking in an individual way without close monitoring', he writes. 'When you are free in this sense, you come to know exactly what sort of person you are.' AI-Berry currently works as a writer in London - who knows hov many and whose lives he saved by not carrying on down the well-worn route to Paradise via 'glorious suicide'?' -- Alasdair Buchan The Diplomat 20100201 'The book attempts to answer the big question: are Islamists true representatives of Islamic culture? In the author's view they are not.' Good Book Guide 201002
Author Bio
KHALED AL-BERRY was born in Sohag in Egypt in 1972. He has a degree in medicine from Cairo University and currently works as a journalist and writer in London, where he has lived since 1999.