• Islamic violence: why poverty is not the main factor

    London February 2006

    I received a number of comments on my last post concerning Islamic violence, and I have received comments putting the blame on poverty and unemployment among Muslim youth. Does evidence support this hypothesis?

    The short answer is no.

    As it happens, reactions among Muslims living in Europe to “insults” against Islam are about just as vehement as those in Muslims majority nations. Only there are fewer injuries and fewer cases of vandalism (because the police doesn’t turn a blind eye?). It is hard to imagine British Muslims being afflicted by the same degree of poverty as Muslims in South Asia and the Middle East. At a minimum they would have access to the same social safety net in the UK as everyone else.

    It turns out, some of the most heinous acts of terrorism were committed by those educated in western nations. There were engineers among 9/11 attackers, and there were doctors among those involved in the plot to attack Glasgow Airport. Those involved in different acts of violence had different educational and socioeconomic backgrounds and nations of origin (or their parents, for those born in Europe); religion was all they had in common.

    When I see the prime minister of Turkey, a member of G-20, trying to criminalize “Islamophobia”, I find it hard to believe that poverty is the proxy reason for Islamic intolerance. The fact that bearded men, with all the power and money one could desire, pass laws based on Islamic “sharia” outlawing apostasy and blasphemy, the link appears even weaker. On the other hand, Islamic nations do not have a monopoly on poverty; there is lot of it to go around in Latin America and non-Muslim parts of Africa and Asia, and we simply don’t see something like this.

    So it turns out, after all, it is the religious doctrine that causes the violence, not the poverty.

    Category: Uncategorized

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