Pi Attitude Zone: Conformity & Stability

Jihad and Reasons for Hatred

So much hate in the world, we sigh.  Where do people learn to hate like that? 

The question is asked more and more frequently about radical Islam, and its rabble-rousing preachers.  Most answers vary between the simplistic and the fatuous, like the self-righteous American “experts on terrorism” who confidently pronounce that militant Islamic religionists “hate freedom”, whatever that means.

Such nonsense has been challenged by an article in the Economist, which looks coolly and analytically at the radicalization of Muslim clerics, and asks: why do pious and peaceable Muslims turn to ultraconservative and often violent versions of their faith?  Their analysis suggests that, far from “hating freedom”, many radicalized Muslims started out wanting the basic freedom from poverty and want that comes with gainful employment.

The Economist quotes research from Harvard University, which looked at the literary output of around five hundred Salafist (i.e. hardline Muslim) clerics, teachers and students.  The findings surprisingly showed gaps in academic and educational networks as a root cause of radicalization.

Simply put, Muslim clerics with good academic connections got good jobs, whether with government, religious or educational institutions.  Only a tiny percentage of such “successful clerics” ended up avowing jihad.  Those without the connections failed to get jobs in much bigger numbers, and turned out to be enormously more likely to espouse violence as a means to achieve political change, the case with about half of them.

Commented Harvard researcher Rich Nielsen, “Clerics who don’t get positions and must compete to appeal to an audience [adopt] jihadist views [as] a way of making themselves credible”.  This would happen less, argues the study, if they were offered decent jobs.

Pi says: it’s unemployed youths who throw stones at shop windows.  Maybe that rule works in a wider sphere.

Zone: Conformity & Stability Country: Middle East / Africa Product – Other