Islam in the West: an inevitable conflict?

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This study investigates to what extent an increase of the relative size of the Muslim population leads to religiously influenced domestic conflict. Religious domestic conflict is operationalized in this study as societal domestic religious conflict, being terrorist attacks, and political religious conflict, being anti-Muslim political parties. Two contrasting theories are used to explain the occurrence of domestic religious conflict: the clash of civilizations, and consociationalism. According to the clash of civilizations, Islam and the West have inherent conflicting values. Interactions between the two therefore inevitably lead to conflict. Consociationalism on the other hand, argues that interactions between Islam and the West do not necessarily lead to conflict, but that conflict between different religious and cultural groups is triggered by political exclusion that cause grievances. Countries that have a consociational democracy are more inclusive and should therefore be better in including Muslims in the political processes and preventing domestic religious conflict. A panel data study is conducted, containing seventeen Western countries as cases, with nine observations for each of the countries. The period of interest is between 1970 and 2014. A mixed effects analysis is used to estimate the effects of the independent and control variables on the dependent variables. The outcomes of this study sustain the theory of the clash of civilizations and find no proof for consociationalist theory. An increase of the relative size of the Muslim population, does lead to more terrorist attacks and anti-Muslim political parties. Thus, consociationalism does not prevent domestic religious conflict, and Islam and the West seem to inevitably clash. This study also claims that the clash of civilization is in fact a clash of religious values.
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