Terrorist campaigns and the growth of the Muslim population: a reply

Clara Egger, Raul Magni Berton

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    A recently published paper in this journal (Choi, 2021) establishes a statistical link between, on the one hand, Islamist terrorist campaigns – including terrorist attacks and online propaganda – and, on the other the growth of the Muslim population. The author explains this result by stating that successful campaigns lead some individuals to convert to Islam. In this commentary, we intend to reply to this article by focusing on the impact of terrorist attacks on religious conversion. We first show that Choi's results suffer from theoretical flaws – a failure to comprehensively unpack the link between violence and conversion – and methodological shortcomings – a focus on all terrorist groups over a period where Islamist attacks were rare. This leads us to replicate Choi's analysis by distinguishing Islamist and non-Islamist terror attacks on a more adequate timeframe. By doing so, we no longer find empirical support for the relationship between terror attacks and the growth of the Muslim population. However, our analyses suggest that such a hypothesis may hold but only in contexts where the level and intensity of political violence are high.
    Original languageEnglish
    Number of pages12
    JournalJapanese Journal of Political Science.
    Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 8-Jul-2021

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