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Opinion
Pankaj Mishra

Gangsta Islam Has Little to Do With Religion

The roots of today's terrorism are planted deep in the modern world.
The obsession with Islam has been catastrophically counter-productive.

The obsession with Islam has been catastrophically counter-productive.

Photographer: Ed Giles/Getty Images

"Islam's borders are bloody," Samuel Huntington once wrote, "and so are its innards." Since the 9/11 attacks, that conventional wisdom has fueled a bizarre search for the Islamic roots of modern terrorism.

"Islamic" fanaticism appeared to trump every likely explanation -- historical, sociological and psychological -- for the attacks and others that followed. Islam seemed in dire need of "moderates" if not a "Reformation" -- and many a quixotic government program was launched to encourage both.