“The French connection: Explaining Sunni militancy around the world” (William McCants and Christopher Meserole, Order from Chaos) / ANALYSIS


“What we found surprised us, particularly when it came to foreign fighter radicalization. It turns out that the best predictor of foreign fighter radicalization was not a country’s wealth. Nor was it how well-educated its citizens were, how healthy they were, or even how much Internet access they enjoyed. Instead, the top predictor was whether a country was Francophone; that is, whether it currently lists (or previously listed) French as a national language. As strange as it may seem, four of the five countries with the highest rates of radicalization in the world are Francophone, including the top two in Europe (France and Belgium). Knowledgeable readers will immediately object that the raw numbers tell a different story.

The English-speaking United Kingdom, for example, has produced far more foreign fighters than French-speaking Belgium. And fighters from Saudi Arabia number in the several thousands. But the raw numbers are misleading. If you view the foreign fighters as a percentage of the overall Muslim population, you see a different picture. Per Muslim resident, Belgium produces far more foreign fighters than either the United Kingdom or Saudi Arabia. So what could the language of love possibly have to do with Islamist violence? We suspect that it is really a proxy for something else: French political culture.”

Full Text http://www.brookings.edu/blogs/order-from-chaos/posts/2016/03/25-french-connection-sunni-militancy-mccants-meserole?cid=00900015020149101US0001-0325&utm_source=Sailthru&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=New%20Campaign&utm_term=%2AMideast%20Brief