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Event Summaries
October 26, 2017

Event Summary: From Devotion to Destruction: Conversion to Islam and Radicalisation

Henry Jackson Society

By Jack Wright

On 25 October 2017, the Henry Jackson Society, under the kind invitation of the Baroness Falkner of Margravine, hosted an event in the House of Lords for the release of the report “From Devotion to Destruction: Conversion to Islam and Radicalisation,” by Dr Julia Rushchenko -Associate Research Fellow at the Centre for the Response to Terrorism and Radicalisation.

Despite emphasising the vast majority of nominal Muslims worldwide are peaceful and law-abiding citizens, Dr Rushchenko argued that it was vital to examine the motivations for conversion to Islam in the new century. As the West struggles to combat a recrudescent theocratic fascism, it is vital to understand how conversion to the faith — whilst not fundamentally indicative of radicalisation — has become an undeniably distinctive feature of “home-grown” terrorism, or jihadism [holy war as mandated by the Quran].

Given the “phenomenon” of ISIS and its sophisticated recruiting techniques as compared with other rivalling Sunni gangs (i.e., propaganda via conventional and modern outlets, including social media), combined with the corresponding influx of home-grown jihadists from Europe to the Caliphate, the new report urgently examines the causes of religious conversion, and the factors which determine the radicalisation of Muslims in the first instance.

Dr Rushchenko underlined that radicalisation was most likely to occur wherein vulnerable converts had suffered other aggravating factors, namely: a criminal record; stigmatization; paternal absence; identity conflict; and, exposure to the messages of radical preachers (by imams and fanatics in mosques and on university campuses). Most crucially, the report demonstrated that the process of radicalisation can be adopted by individuals from a wider range of backgrounds than communities geographically or historically associated with Islam.