Religious extremism

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Right wing religious extremism in Western countries

Right wing religious terrorism is the biggest threat in many Western countries, including the United States[1][2][3], although this is often downplayed by right wing governments. These acts are often performed by Christians.

"Since 9/11, an average of nine American Muslims per year have been involved in an average of six terrorism-related plots against targets in the United States. [...] In contrast, right-wing extremists averaged 337 attacks per year in the decade after 9/11, causing a total of 254 fatalities [...] Other data sets, using different definitions of political violence, tell comparable stories.[4]"

In the United States, recent terrorist acts by right-wing theists include:

  • Oklahoma City, 1995 Federal building bombed [5]
  • Oak Creek, Wisconsin, 2012, Sikh temple attacked. [6]
  • Charlestown, South Carolina [7]
  • Overland Park, Kansas, Jewish centre attacked. The two people killed were in fact Christians. [8]
  • Colorado Springs, 2015, Planned parenthood centre[9]

Right wing religious extremism also affects other countries:

  • Norway, 2011 Anders Behring Breivik
  • Quebec City, Canada 2017, [10]

Islamic extremism

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Islamic terrorists often adhere to an extremist Salafi interpretation of Islam. Extremist groups include al-Qaeda and Boko Haram. They are often revivalist movements, which seeks to return to an earlier golden age. Extremist groups are often supported by rich foreign donors (often based in Saudi Arabia) or government agencies (United States in Operation Cyclone).

Causes

People have argued a variety of factors as causes:

  • Politics
    • as reaction to oppression and imperialism by outside countries [11]

"President Eisenhower, in an internal discussion, observed to his staff, and I'm quoting now, "There's a campaign of hatred against us in the Middle East, not by governments, but by the people." The National Security Council discussed that question and said, yes, and the reason is, there's a perception in that region that the United States supports status quo governments, which prevent democracy and development and that we do it because of our interests in Middle East oil. Furthermore, it's difficult to counter that perception because it's correct. [...]"

— Noam Chomsky[12]
    • As a tool to further local governments' political interests, or failure of local governments
"There are politicians who are twisting and abusing religion and different strains of the same religion in order to further their own political objectives. That’s one of the biggest political problems in the whole region. And the tragedy for me – and that’s why you have these proxy wars being fought the whole time in that area – is that there is not strong enough leadership in the countries themselves.[13]"
  • Alienation [14]
  • Religious dogma

"[...]the starting point I have chosen for this book-that of a single suicide bomber [...] ignores most of what commentators on the Middle Easts have said about the roots of Muslim violence. It ignores the painful history of the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza. It ignores the collusion of Western powers with corrupt dictatorships. It ignores the endemic poverty and lack of economic opportunity that now plague to Arab world. But I will argue that we can ignore all of these things-or treat the only to place them on the shelf-because the world is filled with poor, uneducated, and exploited peoples who do not commit acts of terrorism[...]"

Sam Harris, The End of Faith
  • Humiliation, the sense of being dishonored [15]
  • Despair
"You know, if you go back and read the great philosophers on totalitarianism, on Nazi Germany, Hannah Arendt, Karl Popper, Fritz Stern's The Politics of Cultural Despair. They all write that what propelled the fascists forward, what propels all totalitarian movements, and I include fundamentalists, Jewish fundamentalists, Christian fundamentalists, Islamic fundamentalists, Hindu fundamentalists [is despair]. Karen Armstrong has done great work on this.[16]"

Counter extremism

Community programmes

Some community programmes are aimed at people at risk to radicalization. Tactics used to discourage extremism include discussing:

  • the important contribution of religious moderates to society and their efforts to defend it militarily. [17]
  • the brutal reality of combat, which is at odds to the heroic image suggested in extremist propaganda. [17]

Behaviour monitoring

The UK government launched its Preventing Violent Extremism programme, often referred to as Prevent, which requires publicly employed workers, including teachers, university lecturers, prison officers and health care workers to report individuals that are "vulnerable to being drawn into any form of terrorism"[18] to the government's anti-radicatization program Channel. Channel then evaluates potential threats and formulates a cross agency response. The Prevent policy is opposed by some because it may alienate at risk communities, as well as being an Orwellian instrument of government control that limits free speech. It might also end up encouraging terrorism. [19] While the Prevent strategy is concerned with all types of terror, most resources are focused on Islamic extremists. [20]

"As such, we are gravely concerned that the proposed counter-extremism and safeguarding bill will feed the very commodity that the terrorists thrive on: fear.[19]"

Stigmatizing minorities vs. inclusion in community

An impulsive response to terrorism is to stigmatizing minority groups or portraying the situation as a clash of civilizations between "us and them". Is generally does nothing to solve the problem, increases alienation among the minority community and pushes people towards being recruited by extremists.

"[any] practicing Muslim, who believes in the teachings of the Koran, cannot be a loyal citizen to the United States of America"

— Brigitte Gabriel[21]

"I think Islam hates us. There’s something there that — there’s a tremendous hatred there.[...] We're having problems with the Muslims, and we're having problems with Muslims coming into the country.[...] You have to deal with the mosques, whether we like it or not, I mean, you know, these attacks aren't coming out of — they're not done by Swedish people.[...] This all happened because, frankly, there’s no assimilation."

— U.S. President Trump[22]

Many of these arguments are used to further other political goals, such as to increase military spending. Extremist groups are well aware that they are strengthened by potential recruits becoming more marginalized.

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"The ISIS strategy depends upon Western societies alienating their Muslim populations in reaction to terror attacks because ISIS is very weak relative to the many forces aligned against it and because it is extremely unpopular in Muslim countries where it operates.[...] ISIS must perpetuate the narrative of a global conflict between the West and Muslims because most Muslims have a negative view of the terrorist organization.[...] Rys Farthing of the Department of Social Policy and Intervention at Oxford University interviewed young British Muslims across the United Kingdom in an attempt to understand the reason why ISIS had such appeal for Muslims in Europe. He found that Islamophobia, either experienced by Muslim communities in Britain or promoted by ISIS propaganda, played a major role. One young woman told him that “ISIS wouldn’t be here if there wasn’t Islamophobia.”[23][24]"
"When Isis executes its attacks, it has a script. It knows that Muslims will be blamed en masse in the aftermath. One of its key aims, after all, is to separate western societies and their Muslim communities: if Muslims are left feeling rejected, besieged and hated, Isis believes, then the recruitment potential will only multiply.[25]"

Other commentators call for exactly the opposite response to extremism:

"[...] we should be bringing people together and I mean all people, those with or without faith, in a united front against all senseless acts of violence against civilians, here or abroad. To portray such criminal acts as part of an ideological battle between extremist, anti-western Muslims and western people and values risks further alienating Muslim citizens and ignores the fact that Muslims themselves also fall victim to these attacks.[26]"

Criticism from mainstream theists

Mainstream theists argue that God does not require human actions to protect his honor.

"For the person who resorts to random killing in order to promote the honour of God, it is clear that God is not to be trusted. God is too weak to look after his own honour and we are the strong ones who must step in to help him. Such is the underlying blasphemy at work."

Overblown threat?

By inflating Islamic extremism, David Cameron has lost sight of what really threatens us

"terrorism of all forms has accounted for a tiny proportion of violence in America.[4]"

Donald Trump argued that terrorism is not being reported in the media. However, all the incidence he cited were wide reported by major media outlets.[27]

See also

References

  1. [1]
  2. [2]
  3. Arie Perliger, Challengers from the Sidelines, Understanding America’s Violent Far-Right, 2012
  4. 4.0 4.1 [3]
  5. [4]
  6. [5]
  7. [6]
  8. [7]
  9. [8]
  10. [9]
  11. [10]
  12. Noam Chomsky, interview with the CBC's Hot Type program, 2002 [11][12]
  13. [13]
  14. [14]
  15. [15]
  16. I Don't Believe in Atheists
  17. 17.0 17.1 [16]
  18. [17]
  19. 19.0 19.1 [18]
  20. [19]
  21. [20]
  22. [21]
  23. [22]
  24. [23]
  25. Islamophobia plays right into the hands of Isis, The Guardian, 25 November 2015
  26. [24]
  27. [25]

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