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20 Mar, 2019 16:52

Western-born Muslims ‘more likely’ to be drawn to extremism and violent ideas – study

Western-born Muslims ‘more likely’ to be drawn to extremism and violent ideas – study

Muslims born and raised in the West are more likely to support extremist ideas than those who are born elsewhere and who later emigrate to the West, a new study by researchers at a Swedish university has found.

While it is a common assumption that the threat from extremist Islam comes from outside the West — which often leads to calls for lower immigration from places like the Middle East and North Africa — the new study has found that homegrown radicals could be a much bigger problem.

Researchers at Uppsala University in Sweden found that support among Western-born Muslims for extremism often comes from a feeling of being disadvantaged and marginalized in comparison to the majority of the population in those countries.

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When you look at terror attacks that have occured in Europe and the US, the researchers said, you find that a majority of them are “planned and implemented by people who are born and raised in the West.”

One of the major findings of the study was that Muslims born in the Western world identified themselves more with Muslims as a group and showed more anger over unfair treatment of them. They also admitted “a greater willingness to use force” to defend Muslims around the world.

The findings can be explained, the researchers said, by the fact that they have “a stronger experience of being disadvantaged” compared to the average person in their society which results in “frustration and anger.”

Researchers gave the example of Sweden, where Muslims who spend their entire upbringing in that country might expect to be seen as “real” Swedes by their peers, but find that they are not treated that way in reality and are still regarded more as “immigrants” and don’t enjoy as many opportunities.

The authors of the study were also careful to issue a word of caution about interpreting the results.

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Marginalization in society is not the main or only cause of extremism or willingness to use violence, they said. It was one of a number of factors (for example, support for extremism can also be affected by circles of friendship).

It was also important to note, they said, that Muslims born in the West are not more violent than any other group in society and the research did not compare groups in that way.

Finally, the researchers said it was “ironic and tragic” that there is a “vicious circle” between how Muslims are treated in the West and the extremism which drives refugees from the Middle East to the West.

“Muslims growing up in the West feel excluded and this leads to some being drawn to groups such as the Islamic State of Syria and Iraq, which in turn have caused huge refugee flows for Muslims to the West,” they said.

It is not clear exactly how many people were spoken to by the researchers, but the results were based on several different studies, one of which included Muslim participants from more than 20 different countries.

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