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Purifying the Religion: An Analysis of Haram Targeting among Salafi Jihadi Groups

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Islamic law denotes as haram any forbidden behavior, object, beverage, or food. Despite subscribing to a similar Salafi ideology, very few jihadi groups use violence against haram targets (e.g., brothels, casinos, statues, liquor stores, mixed sex schools, and gay clubs). This study argues that haram-centered violence unites ethnically-mixed jihadi groups by fostering a superordinate Islamic identity that enables them to overcome their collective action problems. As a result, ethnically-mixed Salafi jihadi groups deploy haram targeting much more than homogenous ones. Using new disaggregated group-level data, our analyses demonstrate that the ethnic structure of Salafi jihadi groups shapes haram targeting, both in Dagestan and on a global scale. The article discusses these findings and directions for future research on religious violence.


Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: April 1, 2022

This article was made available online on October 1, 2021 as a Fast Track article with title: "Purifying the Religion: An Analysis of Haram Targeting among Salafi Jihadi Groups".

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  • Comparative Politics is an international journal that publishes scholarly articles devoted to the comparative analysis of political institutions and behavior. It was founded in 1968 to further the development of comparative political theory and the application of comparative theoretical analysis to the empirical investigation of political issues. Comparative Politics communicates new ideas and research findings to social scientists, scholars, and students, and is valued by experts in research organizations, foundations, and consulates throughout the world.
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