Islamic extremist networks pose a significant threat to the UK and its interests (M15, 2012). The research investigated public perceptions of the causes of such terrorism. It employed a qualitative cross-sectional design, utilised semi-structured interviews and employed a convenience sample of students. The key themes discussed were religious influences, social influences, discrimination, political revenge, psychological explanations and demographic features.
In line with academics' findings, participants believed that religion, social influences, humiliation and discrimination all played a role in influencing Islamic extremism. Overall, due to the discrepancies within previous literature and the current findings, it is apparent that neither academics nor the general public can wholeheartedly determine the root cause of Islamic terrorism; rather, it is a multi-layered phenomenon which is instigated by a number of factors that have been identified within this research. The implication of this small-scale study is that public knowledge on Islamic extremism may improve attitudes, which hopefully as a result, can reduce the stigmatization of Muslim populations.
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