In what can only be described as completely predictable, the Brookings Institute has done a study that has found that young, unemployed Muslim men living in cities in French speaking countries are more likely to radicalize than others. Admittedly, the tidbit about Francophone Muslims radicalizing at a higher rate than those in countries speaking other languages is interesting, but given the recent events, it’s not hard to come to the same conclusion, sans study.
Brookings explains the study’s findings here:
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. The French approach to secularism is more aggressive than, say, the British approach. France and Belgium, for example, are the only two countries in Europe to ban the full veil in their public schools. They’re also the only two countries in Western Europe not to gain the highest rating for democracy in the well-known Polity score data, which does not include explanations for the markdowns.
Adding support to this story are the top interactions we found between different variables. When you look at which combination of variables is most predictive, it turns out that the “Francophone effect” is actually strongest in the countries that are most developed: French-speaking countries with the highest literacy, best infrastructure, and best health system. This is not a story about French colonial plunder. If anything it’s a story about what happens when French economic and political development has most deeply taken root.
An important subplot within this story concerns the distribution of wealth. In particular, the rate of youth unemployment and urbanization appear to matter a great deal too. Globally, we found that when between 10 and 30 percent of a country’s youth are unemployed, there is a strong relationship between a rise in youth unemployment and a rise in Sunni militancy. Rates outside that range don’t have an effect. Likewise, when urbanization is between 60 and 80 percent, there is a strong relationship.
These findings seem to matter most in Francophone countries. Among the over 1,000 interactions our model looked at, those between Francophone and youth unemployment and Francophone and urbanization both ranked among the 15 most predictive. There’s broad anecdotal support for this idea: consider the rampant radicalization in Molenbeek, in the Parisbanlieus, in Ben Gardane. Each of these contexts have produced a massively disproportionate share of foreign fighters, and each are also urban pockets with high youth unemployment.
FLASHBACK VIDEO: Muslims riot in Paris, France 2014