Research Note: Can Knowledge of Islam Explain Lack of Support for Terrorism? Evidence from Pakistan

Studies in Conflict and Terrorism, Forthcoming

25 Pages Posted: 5 Apr 2016  

C. Christine Fair

Georgetown University

Jacob Goldstein

Georgetown University

Ali Hamza

Georgetown University

Date Written: April 2, 2016

Abstract

In this research-note we employ the work of Wiktorowicz (2005) who suggests that knowledge of Islam may better enable persons to critically evaluate the claims of militant recruiters and ideologues and thus be more resistant to their appeals. This gives rise to an interesting research question: does knowledge of Islam reduce support for Islamist militancy? To evaluate this research question, we employ data derived from of nationally representative survey fielded among 16,279 Pakistanis in 2011. Using several survey items, we construct a “knowledge index” to measure respondents’ basic knowledge of Islam which is our principal independent variable. To operationalize support for militancy we use two survey items which query respondents’ about their support for two prominent Islamist militant groups based in and from Pakistan: the Afghan Taliban as well the sectarian group, Sipah-e-Sahaba-e-Pakistan (also known as Lashkar-e-Jhangvi and Ahle Sunnat Wal Jamaat). We use ordinary least squares regression to evaluate the impact of our independent variables upon support for these two groups, controlling for other relevant factors. We find that knowledge of Islam does predict less support for these two groups; however, other variables such as sectarian organization and ethnicity have greater predictive power.

Keywords: Islamist militancy/terrorism, Pakistan, public opinion, Afghan Taliban, Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, Sipah-e-Sahaba-e-Pakistan, Ahle Sunnat Wal Jamaat

Suggested Citation

Fair, C. Christine and Goldstein, Jacob and Hamza, Ali, Research Note: Can Knowledge of Islam Explain Lack of Support for Terrorism? Evidence from Pakistan (April 2, 2016). Studies in Conflict and Terrorism, Forthcoming . Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2758207

C. Christine Fair (Contact Author)

Georgetown University ( email )

Washington, DC 20057
United States

Jacob Goldstein

Georgetown University ( email )

Washington, DC 20057
United States

Ali Hamza

Georgetown University ( email )

Washington, DC 20057
United States

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