Global Independent Analytics

French speakers are more likely to become radicalised, says study

Could French political culture be a root cause of jihadism?

Independent’s Kayleigh Lewis discourses: French political culture could be a critical factor in the rise of jihadi culture in Western Europe, if research is to be believed.

The terrible terrorist attacks in Paris and Brussels made have made Europeans ask many uneasy questions, and some analysts claim they have found a connection between French culture and jihadism.

William McCants and Christopher Meserole, authors for Foreign Affairs, told: "Neither of us went in to this project thinking Francophone was all that mattered.”

"We felt the social science on Sunni radicalism was basically at a loss. Fifteen years after the Pentagon and World Trade Centre attacks, we still didn't really have a good handle on what was driving it."

In other words, while the nature of ISIS network indeed played its part in the attacks, nothing had as important role as that of French political culture. The research, intended to explain Sunni belligerence and estimate potential threat of a country’s radicalisation depends not only on a country’s wealth or level of education but also, to a greater degree, on the fact whether the country is Francophone. “Four of the five countries with the highest rates of radicalisation in the world are Francophone, including the top two in Europe (France and Belgium),” the pair wrote in Foreign Affairs.

However, the academics are not implying that it is the French language itself causes the problem; more that the increase in the violence level is directly connected to the country’s political culture.

“France and Belgium, for example, are the only two countries in Europe to ban the full veil in their public schools. They’re also the only two countries in Western Europe not to gain the highest rating for democracy in the well-known Polity score data, which does not include explanations for the markdowns,” they write.

Two other significant factors that might affect the level of radicalisation are youth unemployment and urbanization; precisely those factors are present in both districts hit by extremist attacks. It lies in the fact that the youth is more likely to get connected to extremists when both of the factors coexist.

Lewis concludes: “the duo admit there is still a lot of work to be done before they can properly explain the rise of jihadist terrorism in Europe.

“Our initial findings should in no way imply that Francophone countries are responsible for the recent horrible attacks—no country deserves to have its civilians killed, regardless of the perpetrator’s motives,” they said.”

 

By Stefan Paraber for GIA.

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