In a recent paper published in the British Journal of Politics and International Relations, Cranfield University’s Matt Haunstrup Qvortrup investigates data on nearly 2,000 recorded domestic terrorist incidents in Western Europe. Data was taken from the authoritative RAND Database of Worldwide Terrorism Incidents for the period 1985–2010 and Qvortrup highlights that, with the exception of the 7/7 bombings in London, all fatal attacks in Western Europe were perpetrated by nationalist, Marxist or separatist groups. The data is also mirrored by the annual European Union Terrorism Situation and Trend Report 2012, published in April last year, which highlighted that the majority of terror attacks were in fact separatist attacks and asserted that (in 2012):
Of course, Qvortrup’s investigation stops at 2010 and so excludes the terror attack in Toulouse, France last year. The data would also not include the thwarted terror attacks in London and Glasgow in 2008. But considering the disparity in the number of successfully-carried out terror incidents between Islamist and non-Islamist incidents, this would suggest that other non-Islamist incidents would, or could, have been thwarted and not made the news.
Qvortrup’s paper also sheds light on the misguided claim that socio-economic factors contribute to terror attacks – his research found no link between the two. This would undermine initiatives such as PREVENT that asserts that “support for all kinds of violent extremism is more prevalent not only among the young but among lower socio-economic and income groups.” The government should instead look at other factors that may be contributing to any increase in violent extremism – both religious and non-religious – and Qvortrup’s paper would be one place to start. Another place to look would be the country’s foreign policy.
Instead, the surprising claim that Qvortrup’s paper argues is that home-grown, or domestic, terrorism in Western Europe occurs more frequently in countries with majoritarian political systems (such as in the United Kingdom) than in other countries with more proportional representative systems (such as The Netherlands). Most cases of terror in the UK have typically involved Irish Republicans, and the numbers of these incidents have gone down considerably since the Good Friday agreement and the establishing of a devolved political system in Northern Ireland, supporting his point.
Allied to this point and even more interestingly, Qvortrup puts forward the idea that any radicalisation that is taking place might be a result of a lack of political opportunity and participation for Muslims – suggesting that any ‘cure’ would come through active participation in the political process. This is something that the Muslim Public Affairs Comittee (MPACUK) has been calling for since its creation more than ten years ago and continues to strive for.
Even more important is that the possibility to participate should be offered by the establishment – the lack of which results in denying British Muslims their democratic right and fuelling disenfranchisement. It is imperative that both ‘parties’ – the establishment on one side and Muslims and Islamic institutions on the other – increase involvement. British Muslims should get involved and the establishment should facilitate it by offering opportunities.
It is interesting that the media has yet to report on Qvortrup’s paper – but stuff like this doesn’t sell newspapers. Islamophobia does. After the Leveson Inquiry reported its findings last year, might we see balance and accuracy in the media’s reporting? Don’t hold your breath.
Originally published at MPACUK
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