A global analysis of Islamist violence

Open Quantitative Sociology & Political Science, 2017


This paper examines the relationship between percentage of Muslims in the population and two separate measures of Islamist violence for a large cross-section of countries (n = 168). The first measure of Islamist violence is the number of Islamist attacks 2001–2017 (logged); the second is the number of casualties from Islamist violence 2001–2017 (logged). Percentage Muslim was strongly associated with both measures of Islamist violence (β = .49–50). These associations were not disproportionately driven by co-variation within one or two global regions: positive associations were found within Sub-Saharan Africa (β = .35–36), South & East Asia (β = .49–50), Eurasia (β = .28–37), and the West (β = .35–46). The raw associations within Latin America & Caribbean (β = .16–19) were weak, and those within Middle East & North Africa were negative (β = –.17–20). Yet the results for Middle East & North Africa were attributable to Israel being a major outlier; when Israel was omitted, very weak positive associations emerged (β = .06–.10). In a multiple regression analysis, both associations were robust to controlling for region fixed-effects, land area (logged), absolute latitude, average elevation, terrain roughness, legal origin, GDP per capita (logged), democracy, and ethnic fractionalisation (β = .29–30). Consistent with a previous study, both percentage Muslim (β = .24–58) and indicators of military intervention in the Middle East (β = .26–52) were associated with Islamist violence across Western countries.

Islamist violence, terrorism, percentage Muslim, military intervention, multiple regression