Are Muslim countries more prone to violence? - PRIO

Are Muslim countries more prone to violence?

Peer-reviewed Journal Article

Gleditsch, Nils Petter & Ida Rudolfsen (2016) Are Muslim countries more prone to violence?, Research and Politics 3(2): 1–9.


​In recent years, most armed conflicts have taken place in Muslim countries. Are Muslim countries more war-prone? Not necessarily, if we look at data for the whole period after World War II. But in the post-Cold War era, most wars are civil wars and Muslim countries have a disproportionate share of these. This is not mainly because conflicts among Muslims have increased, but because other conflicts have declined. Muslim countries are also overrepresented among countries with high levels of other forms of internal violence, including non-state conflict, one-sided violence, highly repressive human rights policies, and countries that practice capital punishment. They also have a higher than average participation in interstate conflicts. This is not a 'clash of civilizations' – most of the victims are Muslims. We list several hypotheses, apart from religion itself, for why this pattern has emerged, including colonial history, interventions from major powers, and economic and political development. Finally, on a more optimistic note, while many Muslims are exposed to violence, four of the five countries with the largest Muslim populations do not currently experience civil war.​

Read the article here (Open Access)


Nils Petter Gleditsch

Nils Petter Gleditsch

Research Professor; Professor Emeritus of Political Science, NTNU

Ida Rudolfsen

Ida Rudolfsen

Doctoral Researcher