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Observers of political Islam — including myself — have long noted that Islamist movements seeking power in Muslim majority countries tend to be dominated by students of applied sciences such an engineering rather than graduates in law, humanities and the “softer” social sciences. In Engineers of Jihad, Diego Gambetta, a sociologist and authority on suicide missions, and Steffen Hertog, a political scientist, combine their skills to support such broad-brush insights with an impressive underpinning of data backed by a galaxy of charts and graphs.

After examining the educational backgrounds of Islamist activists, both violent and non-violent, in Muslim majority countries, as well as militants born or raised in western countries, they find a “massive overrepresentation” of engineers relative to their weight in the broader working population. As the authors explain, “the odds on finding an engineer in [our] sample is seventeen times greater than what we would expect if engineers were as likely to radicalise as the male adult population in general”. Medical doctors are also over-represented by as much as 10 times above the norm...

‘Engineers of Jihad: The Curious Connection between Violent Extremism and Education’, by Diego Gambetta and Steffen Hertog - FT.com

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