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Reactive co-radicalization: Religious extremism as mutual discontent

Causes of radicalisationIdeologiesRadicalisation

Journal for the Academic Study of ReligionJournal abstract

Extremist rhetoric and behaviour, including violence, emanating from those fearing and opposed to Islamic extremism—and typically generalising that to Islam or Muslims—is undeniable. Equally, there is evidence of Muslim rhetoric that fires up fears of a threatening West and antipathy to religious ‘others’ as damned infidels, including Christians and Jews who are otherwise regarded as co-religionists—as ‘peoples of the Book’. Mutual discontent and antipathy abound. On the one hand, Islamic extremism provokes a reactionary extremism from parts, at least, of the non-Muslim world; on the other hand, Muslim extremism appears often in response to the perception of an aggressive and impositional colonising non-Muslim world. ‘Reactive Co-Radicalization’, I suggest, names this mutual rejection and exclusionary circle currently evident, in particular, with respect to many Muslim and non-Muslim communities. This article discusses reactive co-radicalization as a hermeneutical perspective on religious extremism with particular reference to two European cases.

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