In the summer of 2013, Saliha Ben Ali’s nineteen year old son disappeared from their Belgian home. Later, she would learn that he joined ISIS in Syria.
“I saw some signs but in 2013, it was the first wave of youth … leaving for Syria and we just knew something about radicalizations but not a lot,” said Ms. Ben Ali who spoke at the “Women in the World” panel held earlier this month. “But what I saw with my son was that he felt more and more unwell, and more discriminated against.”
Also on the panel was Dr Edit Schlaffer, Executive Director of Women Without Borders, who reported that her organization has created a mothers’ group of more than a thousand women from around the world which pursues a more personal objective with protecting children from extremism.
“We asked mothers ‘Who do you trust to break the silence’,” commented Dr. Schlaffer. “It is not easy for a mother of an ISIS fighter to speak out and present yourself in public. It is courageous for these women. There are so many other Salihas out there. The challenge is to provide a platform to give them one voice.”