Controversies of conversions : the potential terrorist threat of European converts to Islam
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The conventional wisdom regarding European converts to Islam is based on the premise that the majority lack the necessary religious knowledge and being thus unable to discern between the various interpretations of Islam, they constitute easy prey for radicals. Moreover, the myth of “convert’s zeal” contributes to the belief that being ready to prove their dedication to the new faith and community, converts are ready and willing do to everything, including the most atrocious acts of political violence. This thesis focuses on the question that asks: Under what conditions do converts to Islam coming from indigenous European societies radicalise? In other words, which factors determine both their non-violent (ideological) and violent (with subsequent engagement in terrorism) radicalisation? Consequently, the research aims to examine what the radicalisation mechanisms are that may lead to such an activity, to determine possible regularities and to analyse viable implications pertaining to countering them. The research aims to establish the conditions under which conversion leads to radicalisation and terrorist violence; analyse recrudescent concomitances of causal mechanisms of this phenomenon; explore possible pathways existing between conversion, radicalisation and terrorist violence; identify key variables pertaining to causal pathways and processes; provide hypotheses regarding the radicalisation pathways, and establish a typology that can serve as a basis for further studies. In this way the thesis contributes to the existing body of knowledge on the processes of radicalisation, establishing a base for further studies and enabling others to follow with more nuanced and elaborate theories in order to provide contingent recommendations for policy makers. By dispelling many stereotypes concerning European New Muslims this thesis offers a new, contextual approach to the researched question thus inviting the reader to reconsider the concepts of “convert”, “radicalisation” and “potential”- crucial for analysing the widely expressed assumptions that European converts to Islam are a homogenous “risk group” and a security threat.
Thesis, PhD Doctor of Philosophy
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