This study asks whether governmental and societal discrimination against Muslim minorities explains the outflow of foreign fighters from non-Muslim-majority countries to Syria and Iraq. We use data from the ICSR, Soufan Group, Pokalova (2018), and RASM datasets to examine the connection between discrimination directed at Muslim minorities and the number of foreign fighters originating in a country. We apply grievance-based theory to examine whether minority-specific objective discrimination is behind the phenomenon. We find little evidence that discrimination increases the outflow of foreign fighters, but this outflow is higher from wealthier countries. The findings indicate that if grievances are a motivation for individuals to become foreign fighters, they are not connected to objective discrimination. This implies that at least some of the grievances relate to personal circumstances or that immigrant minorities are more likely to perceive inequality in wealthier countries.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This research was supported by the Israel Science Foundation (Grant 23/14), the German-Israel Foundation (Grant 1291-119.4/2015), and the John Templeton Foundation. Any opinions expressed in this study are those of the authors alone and do not necessarily reflect those of the supporters of this research.
© The Author(s) 2021.
- Muslim minorities
- foreign fighters