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Monday, 17 October 2011

1.9 – Conclusion: Is Religion Really to Blame?

Drawing conclusions relating to religion per se is a complex process due to its very nature and the bold interpretation and reworking of texts and tradition that often accompanies it. Theories concerning human belief systems and levels of faith and religion are difficult to prove – ‘religion can never be fully explained, in part because there is no essence of religion that can finally be reified’[1] – and no religious conclusion is so clearly defensible or demonstrable that it could be presented as the only sufficient perspective. Achieving total neutrality can also be problematic as religion is a very personal concept, and the deep religiosity that forms the platform for terrorist action cannot usually be fully understood or related to unless one adheres to the same belief system – in most instances, a lack of unwavering faith precipitates a lack of belief in the viability of religion as the root cause of terrorism.

Sunday, 9 October 2011

1.8 – Can Islamic Extremism ever be Religiously Justified?

There are no verses in the Qur’an, Sunna, or Hadiths that explicitly justify terrorism, but radical Islamists invoke religion when attempting to justify or legitimise their actions. They define Islamic fundamentalism as ‘a method for the search of the religious truth…a religious method’,[1] and claim faith is the root cause of their campaigns of violent behaviour. The Islamic scriptures are considered literal guidelines for all aspects of life, and extremists  propose that every (violent) action has a religious foundation and legitimacy. ‘It is to religion – however misused and abused – that the jihadis regularly appeal when talking about their beliefs or explaining their actions…they claim to have chosen every strategy, tactic, and target…based on religious principles.’[2] 'Islamic terrorists' claim their actions are physical embodiments of Allah’s will, and obtain clerical sanctioning for violence to make it acceptable.

1.7 – A Short Introduction to Militant Islamism

Contrary to popular stereotypes and depictions in Western media that equate terrorism and radical Islamist groups as being synonymous, ‘there is, of course, no Muslim or Arab monopoly in the field of religious fanaticism; it exists and leads to acts of violence in the United States, India, Israel, and many other countries, but the frequency of Muslim- and Arab-inspired terrorism is still striking…’[1]

Thursday, 6 October 2011

1.6 – Politics or Religion. Which is the Driving Force Behind ‘Christian terrorism’?

The militant Christian Right is generally considered a religious movement as adherents cast their ideology and actions in incontrovertibly religious terms. However, their goals also contain secular elements; namely political and territorial issues, (although they are always presented in overtly religious tones).  For example, whilst Timothy McVeigh, the Oklahoma-bomber, outlined his plan in terms of religious faith, he claimed to primarily be fighting against undue interference from the national American government in the lives of ordinary Americans. Do such secular goals eclipse religious faith as the root cause of the violence perpetrated by the radical Christian Right groups: are politics and creating social chaos the primary motivation for ‘religious terrorism’?

1.5 – The Religious Justifications Provided by Christian Extremists: Do They Stand Up to Scrutiny?

Although Christianity does not sanction terrorism per se, several Christian principles do justify aggression in certain circumstances, and it is these that terrorists frequently cite as theological justification for their actions. The following principles of self-defence, just war, and double effect, are often invoked, although terrorist groups often employ only a narrow reading of them, which presents a somewhat distorted understanding. This article will address each concept and explore whether it is actually religious faith that lies at the epicenter of radical violence, or if religion has been purposefully distorted to provide legitimacy for actions that are secular in essence and bring about social chaos.

1.4 – Christian extremism in the USA: The Christian Identity Movement and Dominionism. The roots of hatred?

There are many radical Christian groups active in the United States but the most extreme schools of thought operating under the banner of the Christian Right are the Christian Identity Movement and the followers of Dominion Theology, whose philosophies provide the theological justification for violence committed by right-wing extremist groups. This article will address each in turn to provide a generalised understanding of the radical ideologies that are defined as the motivation behind outbursts of Christian-inspired terrorist violence.

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

1.3 – Is Jewish Extremism Actually a Political Smokescreen?

Adherents to Zionism and Millennialism define their aims in purely religious terms, and present their actions as the embodiment of God’s will. However, politics and nationalism are often perceived as playing major roles in Zionist terrorism, due to the desire for a new Jewish State in Eretz Yisrael, which is a key principle in contemporary Jewish extremist dogma. However, the perception that Jewish terrorists are involved in a secular war is fiercely contested by Jewish extremists. Goldstein and Amir for example, perceived secular political processes as interfering with the Messianic course, and their elimination was considered imperative if the Messianic process was to succeed. ‘Western democracy as we know it is incompatible with Zionism... The idea of a democratic Jewish state is nonsense.’[2] Jewish terrorists instead set their territorial aims against a backdrop of religiosity, and claim that nationalism is an intrinsic element of their religious creed. Eretz Yisrael comprises the essence of Judaism, and there can be no Jewish life without the Homeland. They also employ Biblical passages to demonstrate Jerusalem’s (Zion) status as the symbol of the Holy Land and its messianic significance to the Jewish people. Their return to Zion as promised by God in various Biblical prophecies is used as evidence of the Jewish claim to the land.

1.2 – The Religious Justifications Provided by Jewish Extremists: Do They Stand up to Scrutiny?

This article provides an overview of the religious concepts that are most frequently referred to by Jewish extremists as the driving force and justification for their actions. They are remarkably similar to those verbalised by Islamic and Christian terrorists (articles to follow), and provide the key characteristics of radical Jewish ideology.

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

1.1 – Introduction to Jewish Extremism: Millennialism and Zionism

This chapter forms the introduction to terrorism perpetrated in the name of Judaism, the oldest of the Abrahamic faiths. It will address the theological aims and justifications for violence provided by two key strands of Jewish extremism, Millennialism and Zionism, and will oppose Bymen’s theory that, ‘Jews operate far more as an ethnic group than as a community motivated by and organized according to religious doctrine’.[1] It suggests that religion in fact provides a strong Jewish identity, and certainly plays a central role in Jewish extremist ideology.

1.0 – What is Religious Extremism?

Theological references and rhetoric are verbalised by world leaders and terrorists alike. George Bush, a born-again Christian, referenced his deep faith and the role it played in his political decision-making when in 2003 he claimed he was on a mission from God, saying, 'God would tell me, “George go and fight these terrorists in Afghanistan.” And I did. And then God would tell me, “George, go and end the tyranny in Iraq.” And I did.'[1]

Monday, 3 October 2011

Suicide Bombing: How it is 'Religiously Justified'?

The concept of suicide bombing is one of the most disputed concepts within the field of religious terrorism, and forms the cornerstone of the argument that faith cannot be the root cause of religious terrorism. However, Islamic suicide terrorists justify their behaviour in terms of their religion, and employ scriptural reference and the concept of jihad to justify their actions: 

What was the Role of Palestinian Women in the First Intifada?

The volume of discussion of the Arab Spring has inspired me to take a look back at a key uprising - the first Palestinian intifada - and discuss the role women played during it. The Intifadas were key periods in modern Palestinian (and Israeli) history. They were socio-political movements that physically expressed Palestinian frustration and anger at the oppressive and colonialist policies of the Occupation, from a grassroots level. Intifada is the Arabic term for “Civil Uprising”, and literally means ‘shaking off’. The Uprisings were named thus, to represent throwing off the Israeli regime; the feeling of national desolation, related to pre-existing weakness, was also to be discarded. Although the first and second (Al-Aqsa), Intifadas were similar in their root causes, they differed enormously in their characteristics. One of the primary discrepancies was the role women played, particularly how they were greatly more active in the first Uprising than in the second. Resultantly, the main body of this paper will focus on the roles women played before, during and after the first Intifada, and whether any social changes that were implemented, became permanent.  However, some reference will be made to their role in the Al-Aqsa Intifada, to highlight the vast difference between the two.