What is the real cause of Islamic radicalisation?  The obvious answer is of course, religion – but is it really religious fervor that’s totally to blame.  A recent report suggests that it’s not that straightforward and there are many other factors which are likely to blame.   What is worse, these other drivers are usually ignored by government responses who tend to focus purely on the ideological aspects.  Perhaps we are focusing in the wrong direction, it’s certainly worth considering.

When you drill down to some raw statistics, there are some interesting facts.  Analyzing where the terrorists come from, their social classes, their background can help illustrate the driving force behind their actions.   One of the most striking facts is that many terrorists and suicide bombers have had very superficial commitment to their faith. More than half had little understanding of religious texts, from those who had joined extremist groups in Africa.

These facts are crucial, this is data directly concerning the people who are committing Islamic related offences.   The respondents are from the most deprived countries in the continent, another pointer to perhaps the true driving force of these acts.   Although most of the acts are committed in the name is Islam, the criminals are rarely devout muslims.   For most it is a response to a poor economic and social situation.  In the west, a youngster who had problems with drugs or alcohol could get help perhaps with a drug like Selincro but there would not be that support in less developed countries. These young people who abuse drugs, alcohol and visit prostitutes can seemingly ignore these actions despite them being expressly forbidden by Islamic teachings.

Most Government responses tend to be around the religious ideals. Moderate Islamic teachers and scholars are funded to attempt to combat the radicalism. So far this has been only slightly successful and it’s suggested that combating social and economic drivers may be more successful. Before committing these crimes, they are simply vulnerable people who just react to their problems in an extreme way.

Much of it possibly resolves around young people starting to value their life in this world and not in the next. The offer of paradise in some afterlife is tempting if there seems little chance of improving their lives in this one. Anyone involved in nurturing and educating young people needs to be united in a single goal to convince that each young person’s life matters.

Jim Proxy Simmons.