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God and Mammon: Does Poverty Cause Militant Islam?

Daniel Pipes

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Daniel Pipes challenges the assumption that Muslim violence is caused by poverty.

The events of September 11 have intensified a long-standing debate: What causes Muslims to turn to militant Islam? Some analysts have noted the poverty of Afghanistan and concluded that herein lay the problem. Jessica Stern of Harvard University wrote that the United States "can no longer afford to allow states to fail." If it does not devote a much higher priority to health, education and economic development abroad..."new Osamas will continue to arise." Susan Sachs of the New York Times observes: "Predictably, the disappointed youth of Egypt and Saudi Arabia turn to religion for comfort."

Behind these analyses lies an assumption that socioeconomic distress drives Muslims to extremism. The evidence, however, does not support this expectation...The factors that cause militant Islam to decline or flourish appear to have more to do with issues of identity than with economics.

For the complete article go to the Daniel Pipes website.



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