The Mistreatment of My People: Victimization by Proxy and Behavioral Intentions to Commit Violence Among Muslims in Denmark

Milan Obaidi, Robin Bergh, Jim Sidanius, Lotte Thomsen

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Abstract

Islamist extremism is often explained by the suffering endured by Muslims in Islamic countries as a result of Western-led wars. However, many terrorist attacks have been carried out by European Muslims with no personal experiences of war. Across two studies among Danish Muslims, we tested if what we call “victimization-by-proxy processes” motivate behavioral intentions to commit acts of violence. We used Muslim identification, perceived injustice of Western foreign policies, and group-based anger to predict violent and nonviolent behavioral intentions. More importantly, we compared path models of Danish Muslims from conflict zones with those without direct personal experience of Western-led occupation. We found similar effects among the participants in each category, that is, vicarious psychological responses mimicked those of personally experienced adversity. In fact, participants born in Western Europe were, on average, more strongly identified with Muslims, more likely to perceive Western foreign policy as more unjust, reported greater group-based anger, and were more inclined to help Muslims both by nonviolent and violent means.

Original languageEnglish
JournalPolitical Psychology
Volume39
Issue3
Pages (from-to)577-593
Number of pages17
ISSN0162-895X
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2018

Keywords

  • Western foreign policy
  • extremism
  • group-based injustice and emotion
  • social identity
  • victimization by proxy

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