In the News: Researchers Critize SHERPA Study

Le rôle de la religion dans la radicalisation menant à la violence (The Role of Religion in Radicalization Leading to Violence),
Marie Lamensch et al., Huffington Post Québec, 2016-11-23

The authors of the above article (Marie Lamensch of the The Montreal Institute for Genocide and Human Rights Studies or MIGS at Concordia University, in collaboration with several colleagues) criticize the SHERPA study published in late October. The study’s purpose was to determine the profile of young Quebeckers who hold ideas associated with radicalization leading to violence. The study has, in the authors’ opinion, a major flaw in that it minimizes the role played by religion in the radicalization process. For example, the study tries to establish a link between young people with no religious affiliation and support for radicalization leading to violence, thus giving the impression that atheists and/or agnostics are more enclined to adopt radical ideas than believers. It is erroneous to claim that religious conviction protect an individual from radicalization. Such a generalization does not correspond to reality.

The SHERPA group did no interviews with radicalized individuals and that is its principal failing. […]

Given that studies of this sort are often reported by the media, the conclusions which it draws may shape public opinion regarding the causes of radicalization leading to violence. Given the current state of research on violent extremism, the conclusions put forward by this study appear to us to be at best erroneous.

The current reality is, on a planetary scale, an increase in radicalization and violent extremism. To claim that religion has absolutely nothing to do with this phenomenon is frankly dishonest.

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