Preventing Islamic radicalisation in Mozambique: Through faith or employment?

Project Active from to State and State Effectiveness

The economics and political science literature on conflict and civil wars is vast. Mostly, it focuses on the causes of the outbreak and duration of conflicts and distinguishes between (lack of) economic opportunity and grievance motivations. The generalised consensus is that economic variables are highly correlated with (and even affect) the outbreak of conflict (e.g. Blattmann & Miguel, 2010). However, the literature on the determinants of terrorism is not as clear and evidence on the motivations to support terrorism is mixed.

This project examines recent violent attacks in northern Mozambique conducted by groups advocating religious extremism. In May 2017, a group was arrested for inciting the population to consider the Government illegitimate, disrespecting the authorities, non-adherence to schools, and carrying weapons. October 2017, “a group of about 30 men attacked three police stations in the coastal district of Mocimboa da Praia, Cabo Delgado province, in an armed raid”.

To study the determinants of such acts, this project will evaluate two interventions targeting mosque attendees in northern Mozambique. The first focuses on discussing the Sharia law and Muslim faith in a secular state. The second is a workshop about job searching and job opportunities. These will be implemented in collaboration with national Muslim organisations. These partners will recruit 210 male individuals between 18 and 30 years old, who are regular mosque attendees. Each will be randomly assigned to one of three groups:

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

Since self-reported survey measures are not fully reliable in this setup, a version of the game “joy-of-destruction” - presented in Abbink and Herrmann (2009) - is used to measure support for extremist action.

These events are a real threat to Mozambique’s growth. They take place in the resource-rich province of Cabo Delgado, which has been in the spotlight since the discovery of one of the largest reserves of natural gas in sub-Saharan Africa. The province also hosts the largest known deposit of rubies in the world and substantial reserves of graphite and gold. Additionally, the country faced a massive withdrawal of budget support by the international community, following the discovery of large hidden public debts. In this context, there is much interest in understanding the root of the support of this type of disruptive behaviour and avoid the radicalisation of more elements in the community.