Credit: The Guardian

Who are the new jihadis?

It is too often forgotten that suicide terrorism and organisations such as al-Qaida and Isis are new in the history of the Muslim world, and cannot be explained simply by the rise of fundamentalism. We must understand that terrorism does not arise from the radicalisation of Islam, but from the Islamisation of radicalism.

Far from exonerating Islam, the “Islamisation of radicalism” forces us to ask why and how rebellious youths have found in Islam the paradigm of their total revolt. It does not deny the fact that a fundamentalist Islam has been developing for more than 40 years.

…the typical radical is a young, second-generation immigrant or convert, very often involved in episodes of petty crime, with practically no religious education, but having a rapid and recent trajectory of conversion/reconversion, more often in the framework of a group of friends or over the internet than in the context of a mosque. The embrace of religion is rarely kept secret, but rather is exhibited, but it does not necessarily correspond to immersion in religious practice. The rhetoric of rupture is violent – the enemy is kafir, one with whom no compromise is possible – but also includes their own family, the members of which are accused of observing Islam improperly, or refusing to convert.

At the same time, it is obvious that the radicals’ decision to identify with jihad and to claim affiliation with a radical Islamic group is not merely an opportunistic choice: the reference to Islam makes all the difference between jihad and the other forms of violence that young people indulge in. Pointing out this pervasive culture of violence does not amount to “exonerating” Islam. The fact that these young people choose Islam as a framework for thought and action is fundamental, and it is precisely the Islamisation of radicalism that we must strive to understand.

Interesting take from Olivier Roy in The Guardian.