Letters - Letter of the week

Why do writers such as Jacques Attali (Diary, 24 April) propagate the myth that "poverty leads to fundamentalism"? Attali suggests the main difference between Europe and Morocco is that Morocco is plagued with poverty and hence is more prone to religious intolerance. Given that Morocco is a mainly Islamic country, the implication is clear: poverty outside Europe leads to fundamentalism and terrorism.

Such comments are irresponsible and dangerous, and all the more so when presented as throwaway lines in a piece about the serious global issue of poverty. Osama Bin Laden was not born into poverty; nor were the 11 September 2001 hijackers and the 7 July suicide bombers.

People who are truly poor are far too busy living from one day to the next to become "fundamentalist". Until we become disabused of this myth, we will never come even close to understanding such individuals and the problem will persist. Poverty is a serious matter, as is terrorism, but they are separate issues.

Pete Harvey
Rempstone, Leicestershire

This article first appeared in Wealth and terror

2006-05-01