Reactive Co-Radicalization: Religious Extremism as Mutual Discontent


  • Douglas Pratt University of Waikato



Religious extremism, radicalization, Islamism, Swiss minaret ban, Anders Breivik


Extremist rhetoric and behaviour, including violence, emanating from those fearing and opposed to Islamic extremism—and typically generalising that to Islam or Muslims—is undeniable. Equally, there is evidence of Muslim rhetoric that fires up fears of a threatening West and antipathy to religious ‘others’ as damned infidels, including Christians and Jews who are otherwise regarded as co-religionists—as ‘peoples of the Book’. Mutual discontent and antipathy abound. On the one hand, Islamic extremism provokes a reactionary extremism from parts, at least, of the non-Muslim world; on the other hand, Muslim extremism appears often in response to the perception of an aggressive and impositional colonising non-Muslim world. ‘Reactive Co-Radicalization’, I suggest, names this mutual rejection and exclusionary circle currently evident, in particular, with respect to many Muslim and non-Muslim communities. This article discusses reactive co-radicalization as a hermeneutical perspective on religious extremism with particular reference to two European cases.

Author Biography

  • Douglas Pratt, University of Waikato
    Douglas Pratt is Professor of Religious Studies in the School of Social Sciences, University of Waikato, New Zealand; Adjunct Professor for Theology and Interreligious Studies at the University of Bern, Switzerland; and an Adjunct Associate Professor (Research) of the School of Social Sciences at Monash University, Australia. He is the New Zealand Associate of the UNESCO Chair in Intercultural and Interreligious Relations – Asia Pacific, and an Associate of the Centre for the Study of Religion and Politics (CSRP) at the University of St Andrews, Scotland. He is widely published in areas of Islam and Christian-Muslim relations, among others.






How to Cite

Pratt, D. (2015). Reactive Co-Radicalization: Religious Extremism as Mutual Discontent. Journal for the Academic Study of Religion, 28(1), 3-23.