What makes a Muslim radical?

You’ve no doubt heard it before from Washington: The West will know it is winning the war on terror when it stems the tide of Islamic radicalism. The problem with that theory, though, is that the West is still at a loss as to just what makes a Muslim radical. Some say it is poverty. ...

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606054_chart8.jpg

You've no doubt heard it before from Washington: The West will know it is winning the war on terror when it stems the tide of Islamic radicalism. The problem with that theory, though, is that the West is still at a loss as to just what makes a Muslim radical. Some say it is poverty. Others say it is hopelessness. Still others say it is because radicals are religious fundamentalists. But those theories are wrong.

In a new ForeignPolicy.com exclusive, Dalia Mogahed, executive director of Muslim studies at the Gallup Organization, and John Esposito, a professor at Georgetown and participant in the recent U.N. panel recommending strategies to build bridges with the Muslim world, offer some fascinating new data based on an immense poll just completed by Gallup in nine Muslim countries. Their findings will surprise you: Across many indicators, Muslim radicals are often indistinguishable from their moderate bretheren. And where they do differ offers policymakers a key opportunity to prevent the moderate Muslim mainstream from sliding away, and to check the persuasive power of those who would do us harm. Don't miss it.

You’ve no doubt heard it before from Washington: The West will know it is winning the war on terror when it stems the tide of Islamic radicalism. The problem with that theory, though, is that the West is still at a loss as to just what makes a Muslim radical. Some say it is poverty. Others say it is hopelessness. Still others say it is because radicals are religious fundamentalists. But those theories are wrong.

In a new ForeignPolicy.com exclusive, Dalia Mogahed, executive director of Muslim studies at the Gallup Organization, and John Esposito, a professor at Georgetown and participant in the recent U.N. panel recommending strategies to build bridges with the Muslim world, offer some fascinating new data based on an immense poll just completed by Gallup in nine Muslim countries. Their findings will surprise you: Across many indicators, Muslim radicals are often indistinguishable from their moderate bretheren. And where they do differ offers policymakers a key opportunity to prevent the moderate Muslim mainstream from sliding away, and to check the persuasive power of those who would do us harm. Don’t miss it.

Carolyn O'Hara is a senior editor at Foreign Policy.

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