Zinah knew the tack to take and used it. She welcomed the teen with smiling eyes.

‘Hello, Amirah.’ The adopted name.

‘The name means princess or leader.’ Zinah had read it right. The girl flushed pink. She was more excited by her new persona than Islam.

Amirah was now in with the ‘in crowd’.

‘A person’s name says something special about them and their character,’ Zinah enthused. ‘It’s how people interact with you.’

‘And when I call myself Amirah they see straight away I’m a Muslim.’

​While Zinah could call up a show of empathy in an instant, it took time to develop real influence over these girls. You can’t hurry things. So when Amirah fiddled endlessly with her hijab, Zinah stopped herself saying, ‘Leave it alone.’

Don’t nag.

Amirah was the same as the others she’d converted in this respect. Her first rush of passion for the Caliphate was more to do with the ‘look at me’ factor than anything else.

The above is an excerpt from my book “The Missing Activist”.  Zinah Al-Rashid is a major character, a bi-polar personality. When she’s not cruising Harrods for her fix of consumerism, Zinah is recruiting vulnerable teenagers to join the Islamic State. And she does so by manipulating their need for attention.

When I grew up in the middle east, it was inconceivable any teenage girl would swop a Bardot hairdo for the burqa. But that’s no longer the case. And not just for younger women either.

The former rock star and singer Sinead O’Connor (Nothing Compares 2U) announced she had converted. She now calls herself Shuhada’ Davitt which means martyrs. In late October, the 51-year-old mother-of-four who was ordained as a Catholic priest in the 1990s, wrote: ‘This is to announce that I am proud to have become a Muslim.’ She then posted images of herself wearing a hijab and a video of her reciting the call to prayer.

Humans are naturally wired for attention. From our earliest childhood experiences to our ongoing well-being, we depend on being noticed by others to fulfil needs central to our survival and our mental health. In fact, many of our everyday actions are subconsciously driven by the desire to stand out.  It’s the opposite of being overlooked or invisible.

A study published last year, for example, reported that being ignored at work was even more damaging than being actively harassed.

Other research has found that societal exclusion “increases anger, depression, jealousy, and sadness,” while also compromising sleep quality and immune function.

As highly adaptable social creatures, we guard against isolation and neglect by seeking out attention from those around us. It’s a primal need.

But there’s also a syndrome now defined by the American Psychiatric Association known as histrionic personality disorder. It’s diagnosed four times as frequently in women as men, which will not please the feminist lobby.

As cited on Wikipedia, associated features of HPD include “egocentrism, self-indulgence, continuous longing for appreciation, and persistent manipulative behavior to achieve their own needs.”  It’s likely that the rise of online activity is fuelling this type of behaviour.

It’s a theme covered in The Missing Activist.

the Missing Activist by Louise Burfitt-Dons ISBN 9780953852284

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