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A Tale of Two Countries: Why Some British Muslims Turned to Terrorism and French Muslims Did Not

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In 2005, France and England experienced violent events that emanated from their native-born Muslim populations. France experienced massive riots in many cities over a period of several weeks in the late fall. Britain was hit by terrorists on 7 July 2005, and an attack failed two weeks later on 7/21. Also since 2001, there have been over 200 terrorist convictions in Britain In 2005, France and England experienced violent events that emanated from their native-born Muslim populations. France experienced massive riots in many cities over a period of several weeks in the late fall. Britain was hit by terrorists on 7 July 2005, and an attack failed two weeks later on 7/21. Also since 2001, there have been over 200 terrorist convictions in Britain, many involving homegrown radicals. The events of 2005 illustrated the difference between two western European countries that have large Muslim populations. In Britain, a small minority of British-born Muslims turned to terrorism; in France large numbers of young French-born Muslims rioted. Utilizing social movement theory, this thesis argues that there were considerably more political opportunities for radicals to act in Britain than in France. This difference in opportunities can be explained through national policy and national political culture. Britain had allowed radical groups to develop within its borders, while France, based on historical experience, proactively discouraged such a development.


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In 2005, France and England experienced violent events that emanated from their native-born Muslim populations. France experienced massive riots in many cities over a period of several weeks in the late fall. Britain was hit by terrorists on 7 July 2005, and an attack failed two weeks later on 7/21. Also since 2001, there have been over 200 terrorist convictions in Britain In 2005, France and England experienced violent events that emanated from their native-born Muslim populations. France experienced massive riots in many cities over a period of several weeks in the late fall. Britain was hit by terrorists on 7 July 2005, and an attack failed two weeks later on 7/21. Also since 2001, there have been over 200 terrorist convictions in Britain, many involving homegrown radicals. The events of 2005 illustrated the difference between two western European countries that have large Muslim populations. In Britain, a small minority of British-born Muslims turned to terrorism; in France large numbers of young French-born Muslims rioted. Utilizing social movement theory, this thesis argues that there were considerably more political opportunities for radicals to act in Britain than in France. This difference in opportunities can be explained through national policy and national political culture. Britain had allowed radical groups to develop within its borders, while France, based on historical experience, proactively discouraged such a development.

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