ULG 2 minute read
January 2, 2018

Traversing the fringes of fault lines

Economic deprivation and social misery are often cited as major factors that allow extremism to take root. While these undoubtedly play a role, can these be seen as the main causes? Billions suffer poverty worldwide, and discrimination and ignorance are tragically widespread, yet few among these billions commit acts of terrorism.

There must be other causes that equally have to be taken into account. The forces that lead to militancy include poor governance, experiences of injustice, discrimination, marginalization, corruption, or physical violence, such as being beaten by police or security forces, or being faced with the killing of a family member. Do strong feelings of injustice trump economic factors for those who decide to take up arms in support of extremist movements?

Is Radicalisation a youth revolt against society, articulated on an Islamic religious narrative of jihad?

That is to say: It is not the uprising of a Muslim community victim of poverty and racism: only young people join, including converts who did not share the “sufferings” of Muslims in Europe. These rebels without a cause find in jihad a “noble” and global cause, and are consequently instrumentalised by a radical organisation (Al Qaeda, ISIS), that has a strategic agenda.