Explaining the appeal of militant Salafism in a Norwegian context
By drawing upon existing literature on Islamic radicalisation, this article empirically explores why some Norwegian Muslims come to accept the use of violence in the name of Islam. Based on primary internet research and interviews with individuals who either call for violent jihad, or who have travelled to Syria to engage in armed struggle, this study identifies several complaints and grievances which may result in individuals adopting extreme positions. These grievances relate to Norwegian and Western foreign policies, feelings of being alienated and stigmatised in the public debate, a sense of not belonging, actual or perceived discrimination, and socio-economic deprivation. Interestingly, the findings in this study suggest that these factors are not significantly different in Norway than in other European countries facing the general trend of Islamic radicalisation. Rather, the ideological positions and statements identified in the data collection reflect the broader literature on the radicalisation of young Muslims living in Europe. In line with theories of Wiktorowicz (2005) and Roy (2004), this article therefore argues that Norwegian Muslims may become attracted to militant Salafism because it responds to their individual grievances, and provides an alternative worldview that offers meaning, community and justice based on shared religion and ideology.