A THEORY OF RELIGIOUS GRIEVANCE: UNDERSTANDING THE CONFLICT IN AFGHANISTAN
Keywords:political economy of radicalism, religious grievance, radicalization, grievance-based theory of conflict, conflict in Afghanistan
Grievances have been an important source of conflict throughout human history. In this paper, we attempt to explain the conflict in Afghanistan beyond the economic reasons – a premise that dominated the development discourse in the post-2001 period, yet had limited impact in terms of reducing violence and countering insurgency. We present a theory of ‘religious grievance’ in understanding the conflict in Afghanistan which shows how individuals resort to insurgency in response to their perceptions of discrimination, political exclusion, and perceptions of threat to religious sovereignty. The theory explains how and when religious grievance turns into political grievance to engender conflict in societies where a political interpretation of religion is dominant. The paper concludes with a discussion of how radicalism can be contained by investing in and promoting alternative moderate discourses to delegitimize radical narratives that have been used as a conflict mobilization strategy.
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