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Religion, Radicalization and the Causes of Terrorism


The Cambridge Companion to Religion and TerrorismChapter summary

What causes terrorism and how can it be prevented? This is one of the great political questions of our time and over the last decade and a half, considerable resources have been allocated not only to state counter-terrorism programmes, but also to research which might shed some light on this question and inform counter-terrorism policies and practices. Terrorism experts have explored a host of possible causes. Low levels of education, economic and financial crisis, globalisation, inequality, occupation, political repression, poverty, psychopathy and state failure; these are just some of the factors examined in the literature, which tends to emphasise the multiplicity of causes and the complexity of the issue.1 But whilst terrorism experts seem collectively unable to reach any firm conclusions as to the most significant causes of their object of study, the policy agenda, to which they largely orientate themselves, has focused increasingly on Muslims; and, with the usual disclaimers, the experts have followed.

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