Analysis of the radicalisation of Islam : case studies from South Africa and the United Kingdom.
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Radicalisation is a problem to which no country is immune. It is a dramatic shift in behaviour and attitude that carries undesirable consequences such as the breakdown of families, communities, and democracies – with the ultimate consequence being terrorism. The growing concern of Islamic radicalisation and the impact it can possibly have underscores the focus of the current study. It also speaks to issues around religious freedom and the broader fight against terrorism. It will be looking into the commonly cited causes of radicalisation and the psychological processes involved in an individual’s path to radicalism. The research was approached from a constructionist orientation meaning that individuals shape their reality based on their beliefs and interactions with other people and the world. The study examines radicalisation within a paradigm focused on a combination of criminological and psychological principles, to produce a contextualised study on Islamic radicalisation. Case studies from South Africa and the United Kingdom will be assessed with the theoretical frameworks of Moghaddam’s Staircase to Terrorism (2005) and the Root Cause Model (Veldhuis & Staun, 2009) to demonstrate the universality of the phenomenon of radicalisation. The study rests on the idea of instrumental rationality found in rational choice theory with the objective of assessing South Africa’s risk to radicalisation based on micro and macro factors. The research found that the factors, which result in radicalisation, are many and complex, and may not be reduced to a single cause. Although one factor that seems to play a very significant role is identity, more specifically the need to belong, be accepted and to have a purpose. In other words, the radical religious ideology provides vocabulary and a bolstered identity, whereas politics provide the stimulus. The ideology of the group is not as important as what the group is offering the individual in terms of acceptance and a platform for expression. This study, as previously stated is about Islamism due to global concern, although it could have been about any radical organisation or movement. It is recommended that discussions about religion, identity, foreign policy and politics be encouraged especially amongst younger people. These discussions should not be weakened by political correctness, or when a radical view is expressed, the fear of censure. All ideologies are, and should be open to questioning and investigation. The researcher understands that this topic may be misunderstood – implying that there is a heightened risk posed by specific groups. It is hoped that the substance of the study will prove otherwise, with the researcher maintaining a secular view throughout.