A sign supporting Jihadist cleric Umar Abd
al-Rahman at an election rally on April 26, 2012 in Tahrir square, Cairo, Egypt.
Richard Nielsen Photo
Jihadi Radicalization of Muslim Clerics
Brown Bag Lunch
Series: International Security Brown Bag Seminar
Open to the Public - Belfer Center Library, Littauer-369
February 28, 2013
|Speaker:||Richard Nielsen, Research Fellow, International Security Program|
Related Project: International Security
This seminar will explain why some Muslim clerics adopt the ideology of militant Jihad while others do not. Speaker Richard Nielsen argues that clerics strategically adopt or reject Jihadi ideology because of career incentives generated by the structure of cleric educational networks. Well-connected clerics enjoy substantial success at pursuing comfortable careers within state-run religious institutions, and they reject Jihadi ideology in exchange for continued material support from the state. Clerics with poor educational networks cannot rely on connections to advance through the state-run institutions, so many pursue careers outside of the system by appealing directly to lay audiences for support. These clerics are more likely to adopt Jihadi ideology because it helps them demonstrate to potential supporters that they have not been theologically coopted by political elites.
Nielsen provides evidence of these dynamics by collecting and analyzing 29,712 fatwas, articles, and books written by 101 contemporary clerics. Using statistical natural language processing, he measures the extent to which each cleric adopts Jihadi ideology in their writing. He combines this with biographical and network information about each cleric to trace the process by which poorly-connected clerics become more likely to adopt Jihadi ideology.
Please join us! Coffee and tea provided. Everyone is welcome, but admittance will be on a first come–first served basis.
ISP Program Coordinator
International Security Program, 79 John F. Kennedy St., Mailbox 53, Cambridge, MA 02138 USA
Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs
HARVARD Kennedy School