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Marginalization, discrimination create greater risk of radicalization for immigrants


Marginalization, discrimination create greater risk of radicalization for immigrants

April 5, 2016

Immigrants who feel marginalized and experience discrimination are at a greater risk of radicalization according to a new report authored by START researchers and published in Behavioral Science and Policy. The researchers surveyed 198 first- and second-generation Muslim immigrants living in the United States and found that:

  • Immigrants who identify with neither their heritage culture nor the culture they are living in feel marginalized and insignificant;
  • Muslims who feel marginalized often experience a significance loss, or a loss of belongingness, meaningful existence, control and self-esteem, as well as feelings of humiliation, shame, hopelessness and anger;
  • Experiences of discrimination may lead to greater support for radicalism, which promises a sense of meaning and life purpose; and
  • Many of the counterterrorism initiatives and surveillance policies currently being used by policymakers to identify violent extremists may paradoxically fuel support for extremism.

The report “Belonging Nowhere: Marginalization and Radicalization Risk Among Muslim Immigrants“ is based in part on research conducted by Stanford Professor Sarah Lyons-Padilla as a START Terrorism Research Awardee (TRA) under the mentorship of START researcher and UMD psychology professor Michelle Gelfand. Hedieh Mirahmadi, Mehreen Farooq and Marieke van Egmond are co-authors on the paper. The START TRA program is supported by the Department of Homeland Security Science and Technology Directorate’s Office of University Programs.

Lyons-Padilla and Gelfand recently published a fact sheet summarizing this work and presented it on Capitol Hill.