Preventing Islamic radicalisation in Mozambique: through faith or employment?

Project Active from to Firms

There are vast economics and political science literature on conflict and civil wars. Mostly, the literature focuses on the determinants of the outbreak and duration of conflicts and distinguishes between economic opportunity and grievance motivations. The generalised consensus is that economic variables are highly correlated, and even affect the outbreak of conflict. However, the literature on the determinants of terrorism is not as clear and the evidence on the motivations to support terrorism is mixed.

In May 2017, a group was arrested for inciting the population not to consider the existence of the Government, to disrespect the authorities and non-adherence to schools. Last October, a group of about 30 armed men attacked three police stations in the coastal district of Mocimboa da Praia, Cabo Delgado province. This project looks at these recent violent attacks in Northern Mozambique by groups advocating religious extremism.

The researchers propose to evaluate two interventions targeting mosque attendees in Northern Mozambique. The first intervention focuses on discussing sharia law and Islam in a secular state, and the second intervention is a workshop about job searching and opportunities. Both interventions are to be implemented in collaboration with national Muslim organisations. The research partners will randomly assign a group of 210 male individuals, aged 18 to 30, who are regular mosque attendees, to one of three groups:

  1. Religious workshop (70 participants);
  2. Professional integration workshop (70 participants);
  3. Control group (70 participants) – receives placebo training.

Since self-reported survey measures are not fully reliable in this setup, the researchers look at behavioural literature to find an appropriate way to measure support for extremist actions. Through a version of the game 'joy-of-destruction', the researchers aim to have the participants play against four partners outside of the initial sample (a Muslim Mozambican attending a different mosque; a Christian Mozambican living in the same city; a Mozambican public official; and a foreigner living outside Mozambique), of whom they do not know their identity and only know a short description of their main characteristics.

The recent violent attacks are a real threat to Mozambique's growth. They take place in the resource-rich province of Cabo Delgado. Also, the country faced massive withdrawal of international assistance to the national budget after the discovery of a large hidden public debt. In this context, there is much interest in understanding the root of the support of this type of disruptive behaviour and avoiding the radicalisation of more elements in the community.