The Migration–Extremism Fallacy

13 Oct 2020

(Oxus Society for Central Asian Affairs) An Uzbek nanny stood outside a Moscow metro station in 2016, waving the severed head of a child and screaming “I am a terrorist!” A suicide bombing in St.Petersburg in 2017 by a Kyrgyz-born Russian citizen led to a rash of rumors about potential connections to militant groups and in December 2019, 11 Central Asians were given lengthy jail sentences for their involvement. 2020 has seen even more arrests of Central Asians in Russia linked to extremist groups in Syria and Central Asia. Each of these events has become press fodder, linking migrants from Central Asia to extremism and terrorism. 

Of the estimated 5,000 Central Asians who went to fight with militant groups in Syria and Iraq from 2013 to 2018, many were migrants in Russia. In making this observation, some experts on extremism in Central Asia have concluded that migration causes radicalization. Underlying these arguments is an assumption that Central Asians in their home societies are not at great risk of radicalizing and that their radicalization potential is somehow activated by migration. [...]

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