Olivier Roy

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Olivier Roy

Olivier Roy (born 1949)[1] is a French philosopher with a particular interest in Islamism. He has enjoyed some popularity in Britain and the United States, perhaps because he has argued that terrorist attacks targeting the West are unrelated to Western foreign policy; and more broadly that Islamic terrorism is the result of a frustration with modernity rather than the result of political grievances. In the aftermath of the London underground attacks he wrote an article in the The New York Times entitled ‘Why Do They Hate Us? Not Because of Iraq’.[2]


Biography from the website of French National Center for Scientific Research (accessed 3 April 2008):

Olivier Roy is research director at the CNRS (French National Center for Scientific Research) He holds a state "Agrégation" in Philosophy (1972), a Master's in Persian language and civilization from the Institut National des Langues et Civilizations Orientales (1972), a PhD in political sciences from the IEP (1996) and has been qualified to supervise PhD candidates since 2001. He currently lectures at the Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales (EHESS) and the Institut d'Etudes Politiques (IEP) in Paris and has acted as consultant to the French Foreign Ministry (Center for Analysis and Forecast) since 1984. Olivier Roy was also a consultant with UNOCA on Afghanistan in 1988, special OSCE representative to Tajikistan (August 1993 to February 1994) and headed the OSCE Mission for Tajikistan from February to October 1994.

Roy and Islamism

In a book length interview Roy asserts that 'Within the university discourse, I contributed to the development of the concepts of Islamism, of rural guerilla activity, of tribalism and ethnic groups'[3]

Relations with the US and French state

Roy states that he 'worked as a part-time consultant for the Policy Planning Staff of the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs (1984-2009)'.[4] In addition much of his early work (a total of 5 articles[5]) was published in a journal called Central Asian Survey. This would appear to have been a US government funded propaganda operation. A translation of a further publication appears to have been published[6] by the Foreign Broadcast Information Service, a division of the CIA which 'monitored the world’s airwaves and other news outlets, transcribing and translating selected contents into English.'[7]



  • Jihad and Death: The Global Appeal of Islamic State, 2017, Hurst Publishers.
  • In Search of the Lost Orient: An Interview, 2017, Columbia University Press.
  • Mariam Abou Zahab and Olivier Roy, La Sainte Ignorance: Le temps de la religion sans culture, 2013, Seuil.
  • Olivier Roy, The politics of chaos in the Middle East (New York: Columbia University Press, 2008)
  • Olivier Roy, George Holoch, Secularism confronts Islam (Columbia University Press, 2007)
  • Olivier Roy, Antoine Sfeir, Dr. John King, The Columbia world dictionary of Islamism (Columbia University Press, 2007)
  • Olivier Roy, Secularism confronts Islam (New York: Columbia University Press, 2007)
  • Olivier Roy, Turkey today: a European country? (London: Anthem Press, 2005)
  • Islamist Networks: The Afghan-Pakistan Connection, 2004, Columbia University Press.
  • La Turquie aujourd'hui: un pays européen?, 2004, Encyclopaedia universalis.
  • Olivier Roy, Globalized Islam: the search for a new Ummah (New York: Columbia University Press, 2004; London: Hurst & Co., 2004)
  • Les illusions du 11 septembre: le débat stratégique face au terrorisme, 2002, Seuil.
  • Olivier Roy, The new Central Asia: the creation of nations (New York: New York University Press, 2000)
  • Olivier Roy, The foreign policy of the Central Asian Islamic Renaissance Party (New York: Council on Foreign Relations, 1999)
  • Olivier Roy, The new central Asia : The creation of nations (London: I.B. Tauris, 1999)
  • Farhad Khosrokhavar, Olivier Roy Iran: comment sortir d'une révolution religieuse, 1999 Éd. du Seuil.
  • Généalogie de l'islamisme, Paris Hachette, 1995
  • Olivier Roy, The failure of political Islam (Cambridge, Mass: Harvard University Press, 1994)
  • L'échec de l'Islam politique, 1992, Édition du Seuil.
  • Olivier Roy, The lessons of the Soviet/Afghan war (London: Brassey's for the International Institute for Strategic Studies, 1991)
  • Olivier Roy, United States Institute of Peace, The civil war in Tajikistan : causes and implications (Washington, D.C: United States Institute of Peace, 1993)
  • Olivier Roy, Islam and resistance in Afghanistan (Cambridge University Press, 1986)
  • Afghanistan: Islam et modernité politique, 1985, Seuil.
  • Leibniz et la Chine, 1972, Vrin.




  • Podcast of Conversations with History Interview in 2007
  • Webcast of Conversations with History Interview in 2002

Contact information

Email: oroy@compuserve.com


  1. Webcast of Conversations with History Interview in 2002
  2. Olivier Roy, ‘Why Do They Hate Us? Not Because of Iraq’, The New York Times, 22 July 2005
  3. In Search of the Lost Orient: An Interview, 2017, Columbia University Press. p. 92-3.
  4. European University Institute Olivier Roy Accessed 25 February 2020.
  5. *Roy O. Sufism in the Afghan Resistance 1983 Central Asian Survey 2(4):61-79.
    • Roy O. The origins of the islamist movement in Afghanistan 1984. Central Asian Survey 3(2):117-127.
    • Roy O. The Origins of the Afghan Communist Party 1988 Central Asian Survey 7(02-Mar): 41-57.
    • Roy O. Afghanistan - War as a Factor of Entry Into Politics 1989 Central Asian Survey 8(4):43-62.
    • Roy O. 26667963900; Le Facteur Chiite dans la Politique Exterieure de l'Iran 1990 Central Asian Survey 9(3): 57-75.
  6. Roy, O. (1985). Afghanistan: Islam and Political Modernity. Foreign Broadcast Information Service.
  7. Kalev Leetaru The Scope of FBIS and BBC Open Source Media Coverage, 1979–2008 Studies in Intelligence Vol. 54, No. 1 (Extracts, March 2010)