Radicalisation and Social Epidemics: Risk factors

Prof. Dr. Jeremy Coid
Queen Mary University of London

Background: Epidemiological studies can identify risk factors, preventive interventions, and protective factors for Radicalization.

Method: Three large, representative UK surveys of British muslims and population controls.

Results: British muslims are less likely to report violence, criminality, substance misuse, and have higher or equal levels of social capital compared to non-muslims. However, 2-4% report sympathy for violent protest and terrorism, suicide bombing, and 4% young muslim men would fight against the British army in Afghanistan in 2011. More muslims said 9/11 was perpetrated by the US government than Al-Qaeda. Extremism corresponded to Islamisation, feelings of religious harassment, isolation, support for Sharia, living in North of England and lower social class. Those who would fight against corresponded to those who would fight in the British army, with more having histories of violence, criminality and fewer symptoms of depression.

Conclusions: Polarisation of views and attitudes between muslims and non-muslims in Britain conceal what are greater levels of bipolarisation within muslim communities. Research needs to identify social forces that shift populations towards more having extremist views. Preferred social separation and increasing conservatism of views among a substantial subgroup of muslims pose significant difficulties for UK policy-makers.

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