A new study from Queen Mary University in London refutes the assumption that people sympathetic to violent protests and terrorism have limited education, earn a low income, and are isolated from others.
Instead, British Muslims most likely to sympathize with terrorism are youth under 20 who have been successfully integrated into society and are being educated full-time, according to a survey of more than 600 men and women in England from Muslim backgrounds.
The study also found terrorist sympathies were more common among relatively high earners, defined as those who made £75,000 ($123,000) a year.
The study notes:
Those at greater risk of sympathies for radicalization had an income of more than £75,000 but also included those who declined to give financial information, those in education rather than employment. Strikingly, many putative factors found in the literature did no show any associations, for example, social contacts, social capital, political influence, discrimination, frequency of visiting a mosque for prayers, gender, proportion of friends of the same ethnic background, and being single.
The study goes on to conclude that those with radical sympathies, although still a small subset of the sample, were 18- to 20-year-olds involved in advanced education from wealthy families who spoke English at home.
Contrary to assumptions, religious background also played no role in the likelihood of potential radicalization, according to the study. Political engagement and social and health inequalities did not appear to affect a participant’s sympathy with terrorism either.
The study did note that individuals suffering from mental health problems, such as depression or anxiety, were slightly more likely to be receptive to the ideas of radicalization.
It’s important to note this study surveyed a small portion of the nearly 3 million Muslims living in the United Kingdom. Moreover, sympathy with terrorism does not necessarily mean respondents would commit violence themselves.
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