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Well, I’m certain this will change a lot of people’s minds

- September 28, 2010

From the latest issue of “Comparative Political Studies”:http://cps.sagepub.com/content/early/2010/08/09/0010414010376912.abstract?rss=1 (paywalled).

bq. Islam and Large-Scale Political Violence: Is There a Connection?

bq. M. Steven Fish, Francesca R. Jensenius and Katherine E. Michel

bq. Are Muslims especially prone to large-scale political violence? From Montesquieu to Samuel Huntington, prominent modern analysts of politics have regarded Muslims as unusually inclined to strife. Many other observers have portrayed Islam as a peace-loving faith and Muslims as largely pacific. Yet scholars still lack much hard evidence on whether a relationship between Islam and political violence really exists. Precious few studies adduce empirical evidence on whether Islamic societies are actually more or less violent. This article assesses whether Muslims are more prone to large-scale political violence than non-Muslims. The authors focus neither on terrorism nor on interstate war. Instead, they investigate large-scale intrastate violence. The article makes three contributions. First, it offers useful data on Islam and political strife. Second,it investigates whether Muslims are especially violence prone. Relying on cross-national analysis, the authors find no evidence of a correlation between the proportion of a country’s population that is made up of Muslims and deaths in episodes of large-scale political violence in the postwar period. Third, the authors investigate whether Islamism (the ideology), as opposed to Muslims (the people), is responsible for an inordinate share of the world’s large-scale political violence. They find that Islamism is implicated in an appreciable but not disproportionate amount of political violence.

(in case it is not clear, the snark in the post’s title refers to the polarization of the public debate rather than the quality of this particular piece of research).