Healing through Action? The Political Mobilization of Victims of Al Qaeda-Inspired Violence in Spain and the United Kingdom

Spain and the United Kingdom have experienced similar types of political violence. Since the 1960s, both countries have suffered casualties as a result of long-standing ethno-nationalist conflicts as well as terrorist attacks by Al Qaeda–inspired groups.


In spite of these similarities, the two countries display a striking variation in the attitudes to victims. In Spain, Associations of Victims of Terrorism have been highly visible and influential, whereas United Kingdom-based organizations have not captured the public's imagination and the attention of policymakers in the same way. Spanish associations of victims have been present in the public sphere and have routinely provided their opinions on counterterrorist policy and appropriate government legislation whereas this sort of political activity is difficult to trace in the United Kingdom.


As a result of this puzzle, the article tries to answer the following question: Why are associations of victims of terrorism by Al Qaeda–inspired attacks more influential in Spain than in the United Kingdom? The article will argue that political and sociocultural variables account for the difference. More specifically, the article demonstrates that the experience of both ethno-nationalist and jihadist political violence has affected party systems and cultural frames differently, hence providing distinct sets of political opportunities for victims’ associations to carry out their lobbying strategies.

Diego Muro | 2015
In: Studies in Conflict & Terrorism ; ISSN: 1057-610X | 38 | 6 | 478-493
Cultural Values, Policy Issues, Political violence, Terrorism, Victim Services