“Biographies of ‘homegrown’ European terrorists show they are violent nihilists who adopt Islam, rather than religious fundamentalists who turn to violence. … To summarise: the typical radical is a young, second-generation immigrant or convert, very often involved in episodes of petty crime, with practically no religious education, but having a rapid and recent trajectory of conversion/reconversion, more often in the framework of a group of friends or over the internet than in the context of a mosque. The embrace of religion is rarely kept secret, but rather is exhibited, but it does not necessarily correspond to immersion in religious practice. The rhetoric of rupture is violent – the enemy is kafir, one with whom no compromise is possible – but also includes their own family, the members of which are accused of observing Islam improperly, or refusing to convert.” This is an edited extract from Jihad and Death: The Global Appeal of Islamic State by Olivier Roy.
C. P. Cavafy Professor Emeritus of Classical Studies and Comparative Literature
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