Islamist Radicalisation in Italy: Myth or Nightmare?
This dissertation weighs in on Olivier Roy’s and Stuart Croft’s diverging positions on Islamist radicalisation. To Roy and those aligned with his arguments, the phenomenon in question is a worrisome matter and should be treated accordingly. Conversely, as per Stuart Croft and those in line with his theories, fear over Islamist radicalisation is socially and culturally constructed to securitise
Muslims and advance specific agendas. Applied to the Italian scenario, which position is ultimately right? Is Islamist radicalisation in Italy a myth, or is it Rome’s worst nightmare? In a keen effort to contribute to the existing discussion, we completed one of the largest quantitative and qualitative analyses in the field exploring Italian Muslims’ views on religiously framed violence. Providing our definition of “Islamist radicalisation”, we determined the presence of an “Islamist outlook” through data from hundreds of questionnaires and interviews/focus groups. Though it is no nightmare, our findings show Italy cannot deem itself immune to prospects of Islamist radicalisation either, for Roy’s argument fits the Italian scenario best. As such, we tested a large number of models linking support for violence with various predictor parameters stemming from the most accredited theories on the drivers of radicalisation. No statistically significant support was found for theories proposing discrimination, economic disparity, outrage at Western foreign policy, oppression of Muslim, or any standard sociological variable, including gender and being a convert to Islam, as predictors. Similarly, neither “traumatic experiences” nor rational choice theory was supported by the data. By contrast, the most significant predictor variables relating to support for violence were taking offense against offenders of Islam and the endorsement of an Islamic, theocratic form of government (ideology).
Social difficulties were fairly significant. Geography, “networks”, frustration, and uncertainty as for the wish to belong to Italian culture (identity crisis) were marginally significant.