It’s not the religion that creates terrorists, it’s the politics

by Giles Fraser (2015)

Image Copyright: Tim Stewart News/Rex

The word “radical” has always been an overly capacious term, easily filled with whatever meaning the speaker wants to pour into it. There is the radical right, the radical left, even the radical centre, whatever that means. Traditionally associated with the 18th-century English struggle to extend the franchise and with the cause of freedom, it has been one of those words no modern politician can do without. Google any of the current crop of parliamentarians adding the words “radical vision” and see what I mean. They’re all at it, all claiming it. Unless, of course, you put the word Islamic first. And then it immediately becomes a bogey word.

“How do we stop young Muslims becoming radicalised?” is the question we now continually ask. But it’s a deeply misleading question because it points us in the wrong direction. Why? Because it contains a hidden assumption that it is radical ideas, specifically Islamic theological ideas, that are the root cause of turning a young lad from West Yorkshire into an Isis suicide bomber in Iraq. According to the radicalisation hypothesis, it’s conservative Islam and the dangerous ideas contained in the Qur’an that motivate murderous behaviour.


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