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Radicalism and Terrorism in the 21st Century

Implications for Security

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Edited By Anna Sroka, Fanny Castro-Rial Garrone and Rubén Darío Torres Kumbrián

This book addresses the issues of radicalism and terrorism, which are of exceptional importance and relevance in contemporary society. Each of the two phenomena are analyzed from a multidisciplinary perspective. The book contains articles which explore legal, political, psychological, economic and social aspects of radicalism and terrorism. A portion of the contributions are of a theoretical nature, they constitute an attempt at constructing analytical frameworks for studies on the two phenomena. There are also studies of particular cases, such as radicalism in Poland and in Spain, as well as within the European Union as a whole. This collective work is a response to the need for analyses of two issues which are increasingly responsible for determining the level of security which characterizes the contemporary world.

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Religious Extremism among Islam Believers Living in Poland – the Results and Conclusions of the Research (Damian Szlachter / Piotr Potejko)

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Damian Szlachter and Piotr Potejko1

Religious Extremism among Islam Believers Living in Poland – the Results and Conclusions of the Research

1. Introduction2

Radicalization is a process in which individuals adopt an extremist system of values, which accepts and supports the use of violence and intimidation. The objective of such attitude is to exert strong influence on society, achieve far-reaching changes, and even urge the followers to similar acts. The most extreme stage of radicalization is reached when terrorist activities are undertaken by a given individual or group.

An important tool of counteracting the phenomenon in dispute in its all stages, including terrorist activity, is a full recognition of the sources of extremism threats and identification of the most extremist environments – economic, psychological, social, political as well as religious factors that foster the development of radicalization of opinions. The way individuals perceive themselves and the environment in which they exist together with the specificity of their beliefs related to extremism, are crucial. The threat of radicalization is not only the probability of violence or the risk of its use, but also the possible driving force of other forms of detrimental impact on society.

In 2011, in Poland the pioneer research program titled “Recognition, counteraction and prevention of the phenomenon of radicalization of religious opinions ← 193 | 194 → among Islam believers living in the Republic of Poland…” was conducted. The purpose of this project was to measure and assess the scale of radicalization and identify the groups exhibiting relatively strongest extremist attitudes. The researchers also aimed at indicating psychological factors that foster the development of the discussed phenomenon. The key results of the aforementioned research are presented below.

2. Theoretical Presumptions of the Research

For the purpose of the research, it has been presumed that religious extremism means the co-occurrence of two interrelated categories of attitudes: religious fundamentalism and agreement on employing violent actions in order to solve religious and socio-political conflicts.3 The first category, fundamentalism, was analyzed in individual (psychological) terms as a specific type of religious beliefs, irrespective of particular denomination, constituting an evidence of fundamentalist attitudes. According to the theory devised by Altemeyer and Hunsberger,4 religious ethnocentrism, expressed in the conviction that one’s own religion is the only truth about the world and meticulous observance of its rules constitute the condition of salvation.5 In terms of the second category (the approval of using force in solving socio-political conflicts), violent behaviors are treated as a criterion feature for the definition of political extremisms,6 including religious terrorism7 and secular terrorism.8

In the research, it has been assumed that co-occurrence of these two categories is evidential for psychological maturity for engaging in a particular situation into radical political actions of religious background. In other words, individuals who ← 194 | 195 → show high level of both religious fundamentalism and approval of violence in solving socio-political conflicts may quite rapidly and easily undertake radical actions if they are inspired by external factors such as: strong leader, conflict, a lack of ability to fulfill their essential needs.

What is common for various isolated opinions is the belief that the world is unkind, aggressive and threatening. Scientific knowledge9 and the results of the research on religious fundamentalism indicate that experience of the world in categories of menace stems from the feeling of fear, harm, frustration and threat.10 Such attitude leads to the need of complete submission to an authority figure.11 It as well may be a political or religious leader, as an idea or notion.12

To reach the valid conclusions it is vital to find out what factors make some people become religious extremists. It has been presumed that individual differences in the level of religious extremism may stem from the configuration of specific believes about ourselves and the social world.13 For that purpose, the following variables have been measured in the research: authoritarian personality, social trust, legitimization of social order, social cynicism, political cynicism, the feeling of collective harm, the number and quality of contacts with people and the assessment of the quality of one’s life.

3. Methodology used in the Research

Examined individuals

In the research, a group of 536 people (295 women and 241 men) was examined.14 They were purposefully selected according to the criteria of their denomination, ← 195 | 196 → ethnic origin and sex. It was assumed that the compared groups should be relatively equivalent in terms of age, sex and education distribution. The sample consisted of the following subgroups: a) 121 Muslim Poles (including 113 people of Tatar origin) and 123 Poles of denomination other than Islam/agnostics; b) 83 Chechen Muslim people and 85 refugees living in Poland of denomination other than Islam/agnostics; c) 62 foreign Muslim students and 60 foreign students of denomination other than Islam/agnostics. Table 1 presents characteristics of all groups due to sex, education, age and denomination:

Table 1: Socio-demographic characteristics of the examined groups

illustration
Legend:
(1) Muslim refugees from Chechnya(4) Polish non-Muslim
(2) Non-Muslim refugees(5) Foreign Muslim students
(3) Polish Muslim(6) Foreign non-Muslim students ← 196 | 197 →

Research conditions and materials

The research was conducted from July to mid-October 2010. It was carried out in small groups and individually, with care concerning the anonymity of measurement. During the research, the examined people were asked to complete a complex questionnaire consisting of the instruction, particulars and measurement scales. In the instruction, there was an explanation of the goal of the research and the rules of participation. The specification included questions for sex, education level, age and denomination or lack of it. After completing the form, participants placed them inside a pile of other forms or they sent it back by post. The data was also gathered during the Muslim League congress, after the religious ceremonies, in a refugee centre and during individual meetings in the participants’ houses.

Measurement scales applied in the research together with the Cronbach’s alpha coefficient of reliability:

Religious extremism

Religious fundamentalism.15 12 positions; α Cronbach = 0.91; examples: God has given humanity a complete, unfailing guide to happiness and salvation, which must be totally followed; No single book of religious teaching contains all the intrinsic, fundamental truths about life (–4 – I strongly disagree, 0 – I feel neutral, +4 – I strongly agree).

Approval of religious violence (scale formed for the needs of the research). 4 positions; α Cronbach = 0.60; example: People who die for the sake of the nation are heroes deserving admiration (1 – I strongly disagree, 4 – I strongly agree).

Approval of political violence.16 4 positions; α Cronbach = 0.78. The respondents answered the questions it is allowed to, when the intention is good, throw eggs at your political opponents and pour on them ill-smelling liquid, set bombs in various facilities, imprison or kill people (1 – I strongly disagree, 4 – I strongly agree). ← 197 | 198 →

Perceiving oneself and the social world

The feeling of collective harm. The respondents expressed their opinions on conditions for the development of other denominations in Poland: Catholicism, Judaism, Protestantism, Islam and Orthodox Church (1 – best conditions; 10 – worst conditions).

Authoritarianism.17 By virtue of this variable it was possible to verify individual’s disposition to uncritical submission to authorities. 6 positions; α Cronbach = 0.78; example: Respect should be always paid to those who are in power (1 – I strongly disagree, 4 – I strongly agree).

Social trust.18 The variable verified the conviction if people are good by nature and if they may be trusted. 8 positions; α Cronbach = 0.72; examples: By nature people are friendly and kind-hearted to one another; We may say that more good than evil is being done in the world (1 – I strongly disagree, 4 – I strongly agree).

Political cynicism.19 The variable measured the lack of trust in social institutions and disrespect for ethical rules in public life. 6 positions; α Cronbach = 0.60; the respondents had to select one of six pairs of statements that is in their opinion closest to the truth, e.g. (A) Governments’ representatives usually say the truth vs. (B) We mustn’t believe in majority of statements pronounced by government’s representatives.

Social cynicism.20 The respondents approved or not of the conviction that preserving humanist and pro-social values in life makes no sense. 4 positions; α Cronbach = 0.65; examples: People of good (kind) heart are often persecuted by others; Engaging in social affairs may bring only trouble to an individual (1 – I strongly disagree, 4 – I strongly agree). ← 198 | 199 →

Legitimization of political system.21 The respondents answered the question if the world is well organized and if it needs changes. 8 positions; α Cronbach = 0.70; examples: Every person in Poland has a real chance to achieve financial success and happiness; Poland is organized in such a manner that the majority of people do not get what they deserve (conversely) (1 – I strongly disagree, 7 – I strongly agree).

People-to-people contacts.22 5 positions; α Cronbach = 0.81; respondents were asked for the accuracy of statements describing their relationships with other people, e.g. Relationship with my family/friends give me the feeling of peace and safety (1 – strongly inaccurate; 4 – strongly accurate).

Satisfaction from the present life.23 The respondents assessed their own life quality in the scale from 1 (worst) to 10 (best).

Cronbach’s alpha values (from 0.60 to 0.91) indicate that the scales of socio-political attitudes and beliefs applied in the research are characterized by at least satisfactory reliability of measurement.

4. Results24

Links among religious extremism dimensions

Compliant to theoretical assumptions of the project, high results in measurement scales signify the readiness of an individual to religious extremism. Religious fundamentalism and the approval of the use of both religious and political violence are the dimensions that shall be independent from one another (have at least small positive correlation or even lack of it). Their intense, positive interaction means the inclination to extremist behavior. ← 199 | 200 →

Figure 1: Relations between religious fundamentalism and approval of religious violence

illustration

The data in figure 1 was gathered from the whole sample and from the sample broken into groups. It indicates the correlation of religious fundamentalism with the agreement on applying violence in religious affairs. The value of the Pearson’s r coefficient amounts to r=0.42 for the whole sample and it is statistically significant (p<0.01). It shows that growing religious fundamentalism goes along with the increase in approval of religious violence. Statistically significant relations among those dimensions of extremism have been also observed in all groups of the examined participants, except for both Muslim and non-Muslim students. This may result from the specific nature of this group. Because of their age and education, students constitute the most homogeneous group, apparently unable to see the direct, functional relation between fundamentalist convictions of the superior role of religion in social life and violence resulting from the need to observe this ideology in everyday life. ← 200 | 201 →

Figure 2: Relation between religious fundamentalism and approval of political violence Pearson’s r values

illustration

Correlation between religious fundamentalism and approval of political violence presented in Figure 2 is statistically insignificant in the whole sample (r=-0.01; p>0.05). The only group that this matter proves to be statistically significant are Muslim Poles (r=0.24; p<0.01).

Figure 3: Relation between the approval of both religious and political violence

illustration

The results in Figure 3 show that the relation between approval of violence in both religious and political affairs is very poor. It amounts to r=0.16 (p<0.01) for the whole sample. In groups the statistically significant relation between these two variables can be noticed only among Muslim Poles (r=0.44; p<0.01). ← 201 | 202 →

The differences in the discussed relations among groups are worth pointing out. For students, for example, religious fundamentalism and approval of religious and political violence form a configuration in which these dimensions are completely independent. At the same time, however, in some communities all the listed dimensions may be strongly, positively correlated.

Religious extremism in subgroups

In the following stage of the results, pairs of subgroups were compared from the perspective of the variables defining religious extremism: religious fundamentalism, the approval of religious violence and the approval of political violence. The examination was carried out with the use of the Student’s t-test for independent trials and the mean results for six groups are presented in figures 4, 5 and 6.

Figure 4: Religious fundamentalism – differences among groups

illustration

Explanation: Arrows indicate statistically significant differences among groups amounting to p<=0.05.

Analyzing the outcome of comparison of all three pairs of groups, Islam followers achieve higher mean results on the scale of religious fundamentalism than their counterpart group consisting of non-Muslims (Figure 4). The highest level of fundamentalism is clearly seen among Chechen refugees – this group shows mean results not only higher than the mean for the non-Muslim refugees (M=2.1 and M=-0.7; t=12.6; p<0.01, respectively) but also the highest mean values of all other groups. What is worth noticing is the fact that there is a large ← 202 | 203 → difference (statistically significant – M=0.9 and M=-1.5; t=6.2; p<0.01, respectively) between Muslim and non-Muslim students. In the latter group, the lowest level of fundamentalism was noted. The difference between the group of Muslim Poles and its counterpart group of non-Muslim Poles is relatively smallest, but still statistically significant (M=0.3 and M=-06; t=4.4; p<0.01, respectively).

Figure 5: Approval of religious violence – differences among groups

illustration

Explanation: Arrows indicate differences among groups which are statistically significant amounting to p<=0.05.

According to data in Figure 5, Chechen refugees are most willing to accept religious violence. The mean value of the approval indicator in this group is not only higher than the mean results in its counterpart group of non-Muslim refugees (M=2.7 and M=2.1; t=7.6; p<0.01 respectively), but it is also higher than mean values in the other groups. The second position belongs to the students who are Islam followers – they show relatively high level of the examined variable.

There is not any statistically significant difference between Muslim and non-Muslim Poles – mean value of the approval of religious violence for both groups is on the same level which is the lowest one in the examined sample and amounts to M=1.7.

Mean values presented in Figure 6 indicate that statistically significant differences in the level of political violence approval among groups do not appear. This result shows that in any of the examined samples no more than average level of approval of physical violence in political actions (including killing political opponents) has been noticed. ← 203 | 204 →

Figure 6: Approval of political violence – differences among groups

illustration

However, the result itself is quite significant. The variance of results in the scale of approval of this variable has been unusually small in the examined sample. 91% of respondents has not exceeded the mean value of 2, which means lack of consent for violent acts. Only 16 respondents (3% of the total) achieved the results showing relatively high approval (mean value of the result is equal to 3 and more) and further, thorough analyses, revealed that such people were randomly distributed in all the examined groups. Minor differences in the results may be linked to the impact of social approval of political violence on the respondent. The direct question whether we are able to kill, set bombs, etc. makes the respondents deny approval of such acts. However, the same question formulated in a vaguer form, for example as a request for opinion on suicidal or terrorist bombers, considerably changes the results.

Due to the very low differentiating power of the discussed variable, the approval of political violence was not taken into consideration in the construction of the general indicator of religious extremism. At the same time, however, because of quite high correlation of religious fundamentalism with the agreement on applying violence in religious affairs, it was adopted that the extremism indicator may be presented both in the form of continuous variable (indicator I), and categorical variable (indicator II).

Religious extremism – indicator I

The first indicator of religious extremism has been formed with the use of factor analysis. It is a statistical method which examines co-variances of variables controlled in the test, leading to determination of basic factors responsible for the occurrence of statistical relations (intercorrelations). By virtue of this method, it is possible to calculate numerical values of a superordinate factor (indicator I) and to write them in the form of so-called factor results (the distribution of the newly formed variable has the mean of 0 and standard deviation of 1). In this ← 204 | 205 → case the factor’s results, signifying the extremism indicator, have been formed on the basis of correlation between religious fundamentalism and the approval of religious violence. Figure 7 presents differences among groups in the level of this indicator expressed in standard deviation units.

Figure 7: Religious extremism (indicator I) – differences among groups.

illustration

Explanation: Arrows indicate statistically significant differences among groups amounting to p<=0.05

Figure 7 presents the data which confirms that the highest level of religious extremism has been noticed among the group of Chechen refugees. It is not only 1.5 of standard deviation higher than the mean in the group of non-Muslim refugees (M=1.2 and M=-0.2; t=11.8; p<0.01, respectively), but also much higher than the mean in the other groups (all the differences are statistically significant).

The tendency to extremist opinions is relatively high in the group of students who are Islam followers – it reaches value significantly higher both than the mean in the group of non-Muslim students (M=0.6 and M=-0.4; t=6.4; p<0.01) and the mean in the rest of the groups except for Chechen refugees. A minor (although still statistically significant) difference has been observed among Poles – both Muslim and Catholic or aconfessional (M=-0.3 and M=-0.5; t=2.2; p<0.05 respectively).

Religious extremism – indicator II

The second indicator of religious extremism is a category variable based on four-field combination of religious fundamentalism and approval of religious violence. Distributions of both of those variables have been divided compliant to the value of the median into two categories – high and low intensity. Next they were crossed, ← 205 | 206 → resulting in the distribution of one four-category variable (compare Table 2). Summing up the number of four groups of respondents formed in this manner, the results in the total number (N=490) are lower than the initial number (N=534), as some of the participants refused to answer questions of one or the other scale (those respondents were excluded form analyses).

Table 2: Category indicator of religious extremism (indicator II)

illustration

Two most distinguished groups formed with the use of this method are people who got low results in the fundamentalism and approval of religious violence scales (N=172 – 35.2%) and people with high results on both these scales (N=137 – 28%). These two groups are much more numerous than the remaining two (so-called “mixed”), as scales on which the category division was based were quite strongly correlated (r=0.42; p<0.001).

Table 3: Distribution of the category indicator of religious extremism divided into groups

illustration

Legend: (1) low fundamentalism, low approval of violence; (2) low fundamentalism, high approval of violence; (3) high fundamentalism, low approval of violence; (4) high fundamentalism, high approval of violence (= religious extremism).

Table 3 shows the distribution of four categories of the extremism indicator in six examined groups. The results only prove the observations from the previous ← 206 | 207 → examination. Assuming that the group of people who are most prone to religious extremism consists of those with high results on religious fundamentalism scale and approval of religious violence scale (category no. 4), we may recognize two such groups. They are, first of all, Chechen Muslims (over 80% of them are placed in category no. 4) and, to a lesser degree, Muslim foreign students (40% of them belong to that category). In both groups mentioned, people of “increased risk” constitute the dominating category, and the category of “low risk” is the least numerous (1.4% and 8.6% respectively). The remaining groups are dominated by people belonging to the “low risk” category. Their convictions rather exclude tendency to religious extremism, except for non-Muslim students, who strongly approve religious violence even if reject fundamentalist convictions.

Feeling of collective harm vs. religious extremism

For the purpose of the research, it has been assumed that one of the most important psychological sources of religious extremism may be the feeling of collective harm. This feeling stems from the conviction that in the Republic of Poland there are unfavorable conditions for the development of a given religion. In order to gain the reference criterion for the assessment of this hypothesis, the respondents expressed their opinions on conditions for development of Islam, Catholicism, Protestantism, Orthodox Church and Judaism. Figures 8 and 9 present the results of comparisons.

Figure 8: Conditions for development of a given religion in Poland (1–10) N=534

illustration

Explanation: Arrows indicate statistically significant differences among groups amounting to p<=0.05

Compliant to the results presented in Figure 8, the respondents feel that Catholicism may expect the most advantageous conditions for development, while Islam besets most barriers. ← 207 | 208 →

Figure 9: Conditions for development of Islam in Poland (1–10)

illustration

Explanation: Arrows indicate statistically significant differences among groups amounting to p<=0.05

Data in Figure 9 presents quite surprising results. Muslim refugees find the conditions for development of Islam in Poland as worse than they are assessed by their counterpart group of non-Muslim refugees (M=4.4 and M=5.5; t=-2.6; p<0.01 respectively). In Polish Muslims’ opinion, the conditions in dispute are worse than Catholic or aconfessional Poles find them (M=5.3 and M=5.8; t=3.3; p<0.01 respectively). According to non-Muslim students, conditions for development of Islam in Poland are worse than in the opinion of Muslim students (M=3.3 and M=5.2; t=-3.9; p<0.01 respectively). Surprisingly, they assess it on the worst level from among all the examined groups.

The following stage of statistical analysis verified the relation between the assessments of conditions for the development of Islam in Poland and religious extremism with recognition of the quantity indicator (I). Table 4 presents the results:

Table 4: r-Pearson’s correlation among the assessments of conditions for the development of Islam and religious extremism (indicator I)

illustration

Explanation: * p<= 0.05; ** p<= 0.01 ← 208 | 209 →

In the examined group of Muslims (N=266), strong feeling of collective harm goes together with statistically significant level of religious fundamentalism (r=-0.15), approval of religious violence (r= -0.22) and religious extremism (r=-0.22). However, what needs to be pointed out, on the level of the group, is that those correlations are reproduced with comparable force only in the group of Muslim Poles (however, due to smaller numbers they are not statistically significant). Therefore, the detected correlation should not be treated as universal.

Table 5: Mean assessments of conditions for the development of Islam in Poland in four categories of extremism indicator (indicator II) – for the combined group of Islam followers

illustration
Legend:(1) low fundamentalism, low approval of violence
 (2) low fundamentalism, high approval of violence
 (3) high fundamentalism, low approval of violence
 (4) high fundamentalism, high approval of violence

Table 5 comprises a detailed analysis of relations among the assessment of conditions for development of Islam and extremism measured with the category indicator. It had been expected that the highest assessment would appear among Muslims in the “low risk” category (1) and the lowest (signifying the strongest feeling of harm) in the category of “increased risk” (4). In fact, this type of pattern of results appears in the combined group of Muslims (M=6.3 and M=4.5, respectively). It is also reproduced in two subgroups – among Muslim Poles and among Muslim students (in case of Chechen refugees it is difficult to take into consideration the “low risk” category, because it comprises only one person).

Relations between religious extremism and beliefs about oneself and the social world

It had been presumed that individual differences in the level of religious extremism might be strongly related to a group of psychological variables describing one’s beliefs about themselves and the world they live in. In the group of those variables, the following dimensions are present: authoritarianism, legitimization of socio-political system, social cynicism, political cynicism, trust in people, close contacts and the assessment of own life quality. ← 209 | 210 →

To find out which of the aforementioned variables are the predictors of religious extremism, regression analysis realized with the method of step analysis was conducted and its results are shown in Table 6. In the Table values for the r-Pearson correlation coefficients are presented together with the standardized beta regression coefficients. In the calculation the religious extremism quantity indicator was used (indicator I).

Table 6: Predictors of religious extremism in regression analysis (indicator I)

Predictorsrβ
Authoritarianism 0.43**0.40**
Legitimisation of the system 0.00-
Social cynicism 0.25**-
Political cynicism 0.07-
Social trust-0.13**-
Close contacts with people-0.18**-0.10*
Assessment of own life-0.21**-0.09*

Explanation: * p<= 0.05; ** p<= 0.01

Compliant to findings in Table 6, the factors that trigger the growth of extremism the most are high level of authoritarianism (r=0.43) and social cynicism (r=0.25). Moreover, it is also related to lack of satisfaction about one’s own life (r=-0.21), lack of social trust (r=-0.13) and poor relationships with other people (r=-0.18).

Because of the fact that the picture of dependences linking religious extremism with a group of psychological variables is distorted by their mutual correlation, it was necessary to employ multiple analysis of step regression (see: standardized coefficients of β regression in Table 6). This method shows the relations in a more reliable manner. Among seven potential extremism predicates, only three are comprised in the regression equation: strong authoritarianism (β=0.40), poor human relationships (β=-0.10) and negative assessment of own life’s quality (β=-0.09). Altogether they explain 21% of variance of the dependent variable. After excluding co-linearity effects, the relations between extremism, social cynicism and trust in people turned out to be statistically insignificant, which means that their statistical significance on the level of r coefficients constitutes first of all the result of correlation with authoritarianism.

The analyses have been conducted for the second time with the use of category indicator of extremism. Due to the fact that the nominal nature of this indicator excluded the application of multiple regression analysis, it was necessary to use the ← 210 | 211 → discriminant analysis as the most adequate method. The discriminant analysis is a statistical method which allows examining differences among groups of objects based on a set of selected independent variables (predictors). Linear combination of independent variables (discriminant function) constitutes its core; it makes possible to classify the examined people to one of the groups constituting the researcher’s object of interest. The stronger “discriminant power” the variables have, the more efficient the model they form is.

Table 7: Predictors of religious extremism (indicator II) in the discriminant analysis – β and r coefficients

βr
Authoritarianism 0.89 0.93**
Legitimization of the system 0.19 0.07
Social cynicism-0.03 0.52**
Political cynicism 0.09 0.06
Social trust-0.18-0.31**
Close contacts with people-0.13-0.30**
Assessment of own life-0.18-0.42**

Explanation: * p<= 0.05; ** p<= 0.01

If the grouping variable divides the examined people into two groups, one discriminant function occurs. If there are more such groups, the number of functions grows compliant to the k-1 rule (k – number of groups). The category indicator of extremism breaks down the examined number of people into four groups, which means that for its full description three functions are needed. However, the mechanism of forming discriminant functions implies the following regularity – first function absorbs the biggest amount of intergroup variance, and every further occurring function combines certain amount of variance which was not explained by previous functions. In the discussed case, the first function explains about 80% of the intergroup variance and this function only comprises adequately high resources of information allowing for at least partial explanation of differences among groups (the remaining functions are not statistically significant).

In Table 7, discriminant coefficients specifying the quantity share of particular predictors in the first function are shown. The highest independent impact on the discriminant function results has authoritarianism (B=0.89), then, in a slighter degree, legitimization of the system (B=0.19), lack of trust in people (B=-0.18), dissatisfaction with own life (B=-0.18) and poor relationships with other people (B=-0.13). The results of social and political cynicism are marginal. ← 211 | 212 →

Aiming at specification of relations linking discriminant variables with the function, it is also possible to verify the structure of the matrix (r) showing the size of the correlation among predictors and the function. Conclusions are that it shows only partially the results which are already known. Definitely, unusually strong, positive correlation with authoritarianism (r=0.93) is dominating. Negative correlations with satisfaction with own life (r=-0.42) trust in people (r=-0.31) and quality of relationships with other people (r=-0.30) are much weaker but very clear. Consequently, the impact of political cynicism is also statistically insignificant. However, one important difference can be observed between the two columns of coefficients and it is the role of social cynicism. Standardized coefficient for this variable amounts to -0.03 indicating that it has no link to the discriminant function. However, the structure matrix coefficient amounts to 0.52, suggesting that this correlation is very strong. Attention should also be paid to the second noticeable discrepancy – contrary to what is suggested by the value of β coefficient, legitimization of the system seems to remain in no relation with the function (r=0.06). Indicating differences among β and r coefficients is important in the context of interpretation of psychological impact of discriminant function.

The β and r coefficients show something different to a certain degree. The β coefficient presents the role of a given predictor in calculating the discriminant result at the control of its co-function analysis with other predictors. The r coefficient is a simple two-function analysis correlation, irrespective of relations with other variables. Due to certain reasons, the description of which may be skipped at this point, coefficients of structures are recommended as a better tool of interpretation of discriminant function than standardized β coefficients.

The discriminant function has the nature of latent variable. It is a more general dimension, in mathematical manner synthesizing the most important information carried by forming it predictors. How should its psychological sense be interpreted? It seems that it is difficult to ascribe one superior label to it. It is rather formed by two separate in quality “mental features” (which is certainly to a large extent the derivative of this particular selection of discriminant variables). If the absolute value of the coefficient from the structure matrix (r) is very high (about +1.0 or -1.0), the function contains nearly the same information as the variable. Therefore it is obvious that its basic element is the authoritarian vision of social world (hierarchical perception of human relationships, fascination and submission toward authorities) completed with (both variables correlate on the level of r=0.60) social cynicism (conviction that humanist and pro-social values are non-functional “in life”) and generalized lack of trust in people. The second noticeable ingredient of function may be specified as low mental wellbeing, expressed in dissatisfaction with own life and social alienation. ← 212 | 213 →

Figure 10: Mean values of discriminant functions in four categories of the religious extremism (indicator II)

illustration

Explanation: Arrows indicate statistically significant differences among groups amounting to p<=0.05

The results in figure 10 indicate that the biggest discrepancies occur between people with high level of fundamentalism and the approval of religious violence (the value of the function is clearly the highest.– M=0.74) and the group with low level of both variables mentioned (the value of the function is the lowest – M=-0.46 respectively).

Figure 11: Mean values of the discriminant function broken down into groups of the respondents

illustration

Explanation: Arrows indicate statistically significant differences among groups amounting to p<=0.05 ← 213 | 214 →

The conclusion of the discriminant function is that the people with the highest level of authoritarianism and the lowest mental wellbeing belong to the group that may pose the highest threat of religious extremism. Moreover, the distribution of results in Figure 11 was easy to foresee. It shows mean values of the discriminant function broken down into groups of respondents. As it was expected, the basic components characterizing people achieving high results on this function (high authoritarianism and low mental wellbeing) are representative for refugees from Chechnya.

5. Conclusion

Islam followers, who stay and live on the territory of the Republic of Poland, often declare authoritarian vision of social world, feel alienated because of their cultural background and are generally dissatisfied with their own lives. Most of them are Chechen refugees. These people constitute the group of potentially highest risk of religious extremism. Strong inclination to extremist opinions is also noticed among Muslim students, which is particularly disquieting due to their high status of education gained in one of the EU countries.

Polish Muslims (mainly Polish Tartars) may present nearly the same level of religious extremism threat as Poles who declare to be other than Islam denomination. In all groups of Islam followers in Poland (including Chechen refugees) the acceptance of political violence is insignificant. However, we should bear in mind that it does not concern the religious extremism layer, which increase may pose a problem in the future (e.g. among refugees from Chechnya).

The factor (predictor) that might trigger religious violence among the group of Islam followers is the feeling of collective harm. In case of the RP it may stem from subjective belief that this religion has rather poor conditions for development. The attempts to solve the problem by facilitating religious practices for Islam followers in Poland could reduce the threat of religious extremism, however, we should keep in mind that in countries such as Great Britain or Holland, where conditions for the development of Islam were unusually good, radicalization could not be avoided and a series of terrorist attacks took place.

Apart from dissatisfaction with one’s own life and poor human relationships, the approval of religious extremism is also fostered by anti-democratic attitudes (authoritarianism). Islam followers perceive the world by the culture and customs they were raised in. Needless to say that political systems of that countries are far from democratic. Muslims often remain in close contact with the relatives in the countries of their origin which may bring the danger of submission to local Islam fundamentalists’ influence. This specific socio-cultural layer does not have ← 214 | 215 → to have negative impact on the Muslim community in Poland but it may become a radicalization factor.

It is commonly known that for all the examined cases there is no one socio-psychological profile that makes possible to isolate in future threatening individuals form the community or allow to reduce factors which draw attention to radical slogans. Every such person may be driven by specific motives. However, a certain set of factors correlated with various manners may result in higher inclination at a given moment of life of such an individual to the ideology of Islam in its most orthodox and distorted form calling directly to extreme violence.

References

B. Altemeyer, B. Hunsberger, Authoritarianism, religious fundamentalism, quest, and prejudice, The International Journal for the Psychology of Religion, no. 2, 1992.

B. Altemeyer, The Authoritarian Specter, Harvard University Press, London 1996.

B. Altemeyer, B. Hunsberger, Fundamentalism and authoritarianism, in: Handbook of the Psychology of Religion and Spirituality R.F. Palotzian, C.L. Park (eds.), Guilford Press, New York 2005.

B. Altemeyer, B. Hunsberger, A revised Religious Fundamentalism Scale: The short and sweet of it, The International Journal for the Psychology of Religion, no. 14, 2004, pp. 47–54.

A. T. Beck, Prisoners of hate. The cognitive basis of anger, hostility, and violence, Harper Collins Publishers, New York 1999.

B. Bolechow, Terroryzm, Wydawnictwo PWN, Warsaw 2010.

P. Boski, J. Więckowska, M. Biłas-Henne, Cynicism in Love and in Politics, in: Psychological aspects of social axioms K. Leung, M. H. Bond (eds.), Springer Verlag, New York 2008.

J. Horgan, Psychologia terroryzmu, Wydawnictwo PWN, Warsaw 2008.

U. Jakubowska, Ekstremizm polityczny, Gdańskie Wydawnictwo Pedagogiczne, Gdansk 2005.

U. Jakubowska, W. Oniszczenko, Genetyczne i psychospołeczne uwarunkowania postawy fundamentalistycznej religijnie, in: Przekonania w życiu jednostek, grup, społeczności A. Cisłak, K. Henne, K. Skarżyńska (eds.), Academica Wydawnictwo SWPS, Warsaw 2009.

U. Jakubowska, J. Reykowski, P. Radkiewicz, P. Boski, K. Korzeniowski, B. Wojciszke Ekstremizm religijny wśród wyznawców islamu mieszkających w Polsce. Raport z badań (typescript). ← 215 | 216 →

J. W. Jones, Why does religion turn violent? A psychoanalytic exploration of religious terrorism, “Psychoanalitic Review” no. 93, 2006.

A. C. Kay, J.T. Jost, Complementary justice: Effects of “poor but happy” and “poor but honest” stereotype exemplars on system justification and implicit activation of the justice motive, Journal of Personality and Social Psychology no. 85, 2003.

P. M. Sniderman, A question of loyalty, University of California Press, Berkeley 1981.

D. Szlachter, Walka z terroryzmem w Unii Europejskiej – nowy impuls, Wydawnictwo Adam Marszałek, Toruń 2007.

K. Kaniasty, Klęska żywiołowa czy katastrofa społeczna? Psychospołeczne konsekwencje polskiej powodzi 1997 roku, Gdańskie Wydawnictwo Pedagogiczne, Gdansk 2003.

K. Korzeniowski, O wielowymiarowości autorytaryzmu, in: Demokracja w Polsce. Doświadczanie zmian U. Jakubowska, K. Skarżyńska (eds.), Academica Wydawnictwo SWPS, Warsaw 2005.


1 The team members of a research project titled: “Recognition, counteraction and prevention of the phenomenon of radicalization of religious opinions among Islam believers living in the Republic of Poland – as an element of national system of early detection of terrorist threats” conducted in the framework of the research program of the Police Academy in Szczytno titled: “Counteracting and combatting organized crime and terrorism in conditions of safe, accelerated and sustainable socio-economic development” No. O R00 0040 07).

2 The research was realised in cooperation with the team of the Institute of Psychology at the Polish Academy of Science (pl. IP PAN), composed of: Urszula Jakubowska (manager), Janusz Reykowski (consultant), Piotr Radkiewicz, Paweł Boski, Krzysztof Korzeniowski, Bogdan Wojciszke. The project was realized in the framework of the aforementioned grant no. OR00004007 from the Ministry of Science and Higher Education during 2009–2011.

3 U. Jakubowska, J. Reykowski, P. Radkiewicz, P. Boski, K. Korzeniowski, B. Wojciszke, Ekstremizm religijny wśród wyznawców islamu mieszkających w Polsce. Raport z badań(typescript).

4 B. Altemeyer, B. Hunsberger, Authoritarianism, religious fundamentalism, quest, and prejudice, “The International Journal for the Psychology of Religion”, no. 2, 1992, pp. 113–133; B. Altemeyer, B. Hunsberger, Fundamentalism and authoritarianism, in: Handbook of the Psychology of Religion and Spirituality R.F. Palotzian, C.L. Park (eds.), Guilford Press, New York 2005, pp. 378–393.

5 Ibid.

6 U. Jakubowska, J. Reykowski, P. Radkiewicz, P. Boski, K. Korzeniowski, B. Wojciszke, Ekstremizm religijny…

7 B. Bolechow, Terroryzm, Wydawnictwo PWN, Warsaw 2010.

8 J. Horgan, Psychologia terroryzmu, Wydawnictwo PWN, Warsaw 2008; D. Szlachter, Walka z terroryzmem w Unii Europejskiej – nowy impuls, Wydawnictwo Adam Marszałek, Toruń 2007.

9 A.T. Beck, Prisoners of hate. The cognitive basis of anger, hostility, and violence, Harper Collins Publishers, New York 1999.

10 J. W. Jones, Why does religion turn violent? A psychoanalytic exploration of religious terrorism, “Psychoanalitic Review” no. 93, 2006, pp. 167–190; U. Jakubowska, W. Oniszczenko, Genetyczne i psychospołeczne uwarunkowania postawy fundamentalistycznej religijnie, in: Przekonania w życiu jednostek, grup, społeczności A. Cisłak, K. Henne, K. Skarżyńska (eds.), Academica Wydawnictwo SWPS, Warsaw 2009, pp. 31–48.

11 B. Altemeyer, B. Hunsberger, Authoritarianism, religious…op.cit.;

12 Orthodox system of religious beliefs e.g. see: B. Altemeyer, The Authoritarian…op.cit.

13 U. Jakubowska, J. Reykowski, P. Radkiewicz, P. Boski, K. Korzeniowski, B. Wojciszke, Ekstremizm religijny …op.cit.; U. Jakubowska, Ekstremizm polityczny, Gdańskie Wydawnictwo Pedagogiczne, Gdansk 2005.

14 The analysis of the results comprised data form 534 people; results of 2 people were rejected because their group affinity appeared to be inconsistent with religious beliefs (e.g. Tatar-Catholic).

15 See: B. Altemeyer, B. Hunsberger, A revised Religious Fundamentalism Scale: The short and sweet of it, “The International Journal for the Psychology of Religion”, no. 14, 2004, pp. 47–54.

16 U. Jakubowska, Ekstremizm polityczny…op.cit.

17 See: K. Korzeniowski, O wielowymiarowości autorytaryzmu, in: Demokracja w Polsce. Doświadczanie zmian U. Jakubowska, K. Skarżyńska (eds.), Academica Wydawnictwo SWPS, Warsaw 2005, pp. 114–123.

18 U. Jakubowska, W. Oniszczenko, Genetyczne i psychospołeczne…op.cit.

19 See: P.M. Sniderman, A question of loyalty, University of California Press, Berkeley 1981.

20 P. Boski, J. Więckowska, M. Biłas-Henne, Cynicism in Love and in Politics, in:, Psychological aspects of socialaxioms K. Leung, M. H. Bond (eds.), Springer Verlag, New York 2008, pp. 239–267.

21 See: A.C. Kay, J.T. Jost, Complementary justice: Effects of “poor but happy” and “poor but honest” stereotype exemplars on system justification and implicit activation of the justice motive, “Journal of Personality and Social Psychology” no. 85, 2003, pp. 823–837.

22 See: K. Kaniasty, Klęska żywiołowa czy katastrofa społeczna? Psychospołeczne konsekwencje polskiej powodzi 1997 roku, Gdańskie Wydawnictwo Pedagogiczne, Gdansk 2003.

23 See: K. Korzeniowski, O wielowymiarowości …op.cit.

24 Statistical calculations by Ph.D. Piotr Radkiewicz from the IP PAN.