28 Aug 2008

Al Qaeda in the West as a Youth Movement: The Power of a Narrative

Olivier Roy

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This paper by a noted expert on Islam, Olivier Roy, declares that the success of Osama Bin Laden is not to have established a modern and efficient Islamist political organisation, but to have invented a narrative that could allow rebels without a cause to connect with a cause. Instead of looking vertically through Muslim history and theology to explain Al Qaeda’s violence, he argues that it should be connected to the general phenomenon of radical violence among youth.
Olivier Roy is a Senior Researcher at the French National Center for Scientific Research (since 1985) and a Consultant for the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs (since 1984). He is a Professor at the Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales (since 2003). He is the author of Globalized Islam (Columbia University Press), 2004, and Secularism confronts Islam (Columbia University Press), 2007.