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Occidentalism, terrorism, and the Shari’a state: new multivariate perspectives on Islamism based on international survey data

Tausch, Arno (2016): Occidentalism, terrorism, and the Shari’a state: new multivariate perspectives on Islamism based on international survey data.

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Our article attempts to be yet another empirical contribution to the evolving international debate about global Islamist terrorism. We rely on the analysis of PEW and World Values Survey data from Muslim publics in different countries around the globe to analyze by multivariate promax factor analysis and standard OLS multiple regression which factors contributed to the approval or the rejection of terrorist acts, measured by such variables as the opinion on suicide bombing, Shari’a law and the favorability of terrorist organizations such as Hamas and Hezbollah. We also analyze the drivers of general opinions on Islamic extremist groups and reactions to the ambitions of Iran and its nuclear program.

We arrive at the conclusion that it would be wrong to define radical Islamism only in terms of the identification with outright support for the immediate “bomb-throwing terror”, while neglecting the underlying ideological and dangerous radicalism and also ongoing radicalization of such organizations as the Muslim Brotherhood or the Turkish Milli Görüs, which both start, like the most radicalized factions of Islamist terrorism, from the intense hatred of “Jews and Free Masons” and Western civilization as such, and which for many on both sides of the Atlantic appear as “moderate Islamists” and worthy partners of dialogue, while in reality they provide the fertile ground from which the armed terrorist groups only can develop. We highlight the role of the omnipresent hatred of America and the West which we term “Occidentalism”, but also the intense competition between Islamist and secular, Marxist terror groups which still exist in the Middle East and the entire Muslim world, and the Sunni/Shia competition as well as regional quests for hegemony. With Bassam Tibi we also analyze the close connection between the Islamist sharia ideology and the overall aspects of Islamism. Based on PEW data, we show that the two main drivers of Muslim opposition against suicide bombing are the rejection of honor killing and the death penalty against Muslims who chose to leave the Muslim community altogether. Our promax factor analyses confirm the relevance of this approach.

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