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Processes of Radicalisation - Why some Amsterdam Muslims become radicals

Pathways to radicalisationRadicalisation

This study of radicalisation is one of the earliest scholarly works utilising the concept of radicalisation in relation to Islamic radicalism. The report was undertaken by a couple of researchers at Institute of Ethnic and Migration Studies (IMES) in Amsterdam at the behest of the City of Amsterdam. It combines the use of survey data (Amsterdam Resident Monitor 2005) with 24 interviews with youth ‘on the verge of radicalisation’ and field work and qualitative interviews with 12 young Muslims identified as jihadi-salafis on the periphery of the Hofstad group, several members of which had been convicted for planning terrorist actions. The report takes its point of departure in a ‘classical’ sociological theory of radicalisation (i.e. Ehud Sprinzak) as has been applied to left-wing organisations in the 1970s and which distinguishes between three stages of what is called a ‘journey of alienation’. The first phase is the crisis of confidence, where existing confidence is broken, ideological terms are used to phrase criticism and a counter-culture is developed. In the second phase, the legitimacy conflict, the opposition develops and frustration related to the existing system is channelled into a delegitimating ideology. The third stage, the legitimacy crisis, consists in an expansion of the conflict and criticism of the authorities to the ordinary people, who are now dehumanised alongside the development of the self as a combatant fighting ‘evil’. In this phase the group is likely to engage in violent action. The report concludes that its most important result is that the two dimensions of religious orthodoxy and political dissatisfaction are identified, that they are independent but both must be present for radicalisation to occur. The chapter on field work among the salafi-jihadis is particularly worth reading

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