The Roots of Radicalism We Don’t Discuss


Have you ever been so heartbroken that you joined the conservative faction of a local mosque? Khalid did, because he felt he had no other way to cope.

Khalid’s heartbreak happened in college. But the seeds for his slide into fundamentalism were planted before that. Khalid was born to Afghan parents in New York. And his story offers a different answer to the question of why American, French, or British youth from standard, middle class families turn to religious fundamentalism. It’s the holy grail of policy discussions, and tends to yield answers focused on external factors – like economic hardship or assimilation pressures. But a glance at the effect of internal household pressures reveals insights that are just as critical to any future policy solutions.

Like many children of immigrant families, for Khalid, negotiating among cultures and sub-cultures compounded feelings of isolation, inadequacy, and a desire to belong to something…

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