Tuesday, March 22, 2022

Connection between Violent Extremism and Education in the Islamic World

By Ornella Sukkar, New Age Islam 22 March 2022 Engineers of Jihad: The Curious Connection between Violent Extremism and Education The study of extremism, its causes, and the phenomena associated with it is one of the topics that have been strongly raised during the recent period. One of the most prominent books issued in this matter is a book entitled “Engineers of Jihad: The Relationship between Violent Extremism and Education,” written by Diego Gambetta, Professor of Sociology at the European University Institute in Florence, possessing a doctorate in social and political sciences from the University of Cambridge, UK, and worked as a visiting professor at the University of Chicago, and Steffen Hertog, Associate professor at the London School of Economics and Political Science. The book deals with the relationship of engineering majors joining extremist groups, whether in Islamic countries or the West, trying to provide an explanation for what can be called the "extremism of engineers" phenomenon and the presence of a large number of engineers in violent extremist groups. It also sheds light on extremism being linked to ideology. The book reached several main results, the most prominent of which is that a large percentage of Islamic extremists are university students with an engineering background. It showed that the spread of extremist engineers in some Islamic countries is due to frustration and relative deprivation, and therefore the existence of development and job opportunities are factors that contribute to immunity against extremism. Also, the commonalities between engineers and the right-wing are greater than those between engineers and the radical left. Extremism and Engineering in the Islamic World In examining the relationship between extremism and education in some Islamic countries, the book relies mainly on the study of a sample of (497) people from extremist groups, based on various sources; including academic writings, government documents, in addition to a comprehensive daily survey of international newspapers and the Middle East during the period from 2004 to 2010. The authors highlight that there are educational data available for (335) of the total sample under study and they found that the majority of them have completed higher education or are still in it, their number being (231) individuals or about (69%) of the sample. With regard to the nature of the scientific specialization, there are data available for (207) individuals and it was found that (93) of them majored in engineering, about (38) people had their majors in Islamic studies, while the smaller numbers were in other disciplines, as follows: (21) specialized in medicine, (12) in economics, (8) in mathematics and science, (5) in law, and the rest from various other specializations. According to the results included in the book, out of (93) extremist engineering graduates, (38) of them are leaders in extremist groups; that is, at a rate of about (41%). The book adds that there are strong indications of a relationship between extremism and the study of engineering which is not limited to the present time, but extends back to decades ago. It gives many examples of this, including that the perpetrators of the September 11, 2001 attacks in the United States had eight engineers among them. During the seventies of the last century, an extremist group appeared in Egypt called the "Takfir wal Hijra" group led by an agricultural engineer named Shukri Mustafa. In regards to the number of extremists belonging to some Arab countries, according to the full sample of the study numbering (497), Palestine came first with (128) people and then Egypt with (88) people. The book also indicates that a small number of engineers appeared in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia among the extremists being due to the fact that engineers in the Kingdom enjoyed excellent opportunities in the labour market thanks to the oil, gas, and heavy industry sectors in the country. Extremism and the Study of Engineering in the West In order to verify the relationship between extremism and the study of engineering in the West, a sample of (344) Islamic extremists who were born and raised in the West were tested. In this sample, (338) were males. During the terrorist operations or planning of terrorist operations, whether successful or thwarted, the United States, then the United Kingdom, Spain, and France, respectively, come as the most countries in which this sample is represented. Scientific data was provided for only about 122 of them, where (9) of them had less than secondary education, (30) completed secondary education only, while (83) of them entered university or obtained a university degree. According to the results, about (79 percent) of the extremist university students in the West came from reputable colleges, and the irony is that most of them are from engineering majors. Explanation of the Phenomenon of Radicalization of Engineering Graduates The book attempts to provide an explanation for the fact that engineering graduates are more inclined to extremism compared to other disciplines. There is a state of individual or collective frustration experienced by graduates of engineering colleges in many Islamic countries where these graduates do not find an opportunity to achieve their dreams of obtaining good jobs. That is, a global combination of ambition and shock may lead to the spread of extremism. The book asserts that social conditions are by no means sufficient to explain the link between extremism and engineering specialization, as the West has an economic situation and opportunities that are better than a number of Islamic countries; yet, there are extremists in the West. Therefore, different personality traits, motives, and psychological tendencies can also be considered behind the trend towards extremism. Engineering and the Far Right The book points out that extremism is not only linked to religion, but is also linked to ideologies. In this regard, the two researchers hypothesize, through the collected data and information, that the common factors that link engineers and the extreme right-wing are much greater than the common factors between this group and the radical leftist current. The book presents several examples of the extreme right in Germany, Austria, Russia, and the United States where it is clear that the engineering specialization is more widespread among the far right. Reference: Diego Gambetta and Steffen Hertog, Engineers of Jihad: The Curious Connection Between Violent Extremism and Education, (USA: Princeton University Press, March 2016) pp 208. ---- A columnist for New Age Islam, Ornella Sukkar is a Lebanese journalist specialising in Oriental and Islamic studies and dialogue between cultures and civilizations. URL: https://www.newageislam.com/radical-islamism-jihad/violent-extremism-education-islamic-world/d/126623 New Age Islam, Islam Online, Islamic Website, African Muslim News, Arab World News, South Asia News, Indian Muslim News, World Muslim News, Women in Islam, Islamic Feminism, Arab Women, Women In Arab, Islamophobia in America, Muslim Women in West, Islam Women and Feminism

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