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Terrorism Fuelled by Religion
In essence,religion has developed over the years to accommodate the changingdynamics in society from the time of its inception. As such,different religions across the globe have diversified to incorporatenew ideas, social structures, and cultures. According to religiousscripts such as the Hebrew Bible, the origins of Judaism dates backto 1800 BC1.Withthat said the Bible mentions that Christianity emerged from theJewish Religion. Hence, Christianity dates back to the 4thcentury after the coming of Jesus (the messiah). Before the firstcentury, most of the regions such as Judea, Rome, Egypt and Assyriapracticed different religions. In this case, most of the earlyestablishments practiced paganism. Christianity proved to be dominantgiven that believers of the religion used their teachings to spreadtheir beliefs to different territories across the globe2.Over the years, the emergence of new Christiandenominations/divisions resulted in new affiliations by people of theChristian faith. Moreover, the civilization of new establishmentsresulted in the emergence of religions such as Islam, Hinduism, andBuddhism practiced, by billions of people across the globe3.
Over theyears, some of the religious practices such as idol worship andpaganism have become extinct. However, monotheist religions such asJudaism, Christianity, and Islam have gained recognition in regionssuch as the Middle East, Europe, The Americas, Africa, and Asia.Religions such as Buddhism and Hinduism have also become dominant inthese particular locations. Notably, one of the ways that dominantreligions like Christianity and Islam have spread is due to theaggressive conversion of individuals in captured territories. Assuch, while religion often promotes peace, its history records thesignificant use of violence on people who refused to convert4.
Acts ofterrorism were common in the early centuries and still are to date.To understand the term better, it is essential to define terrorismand analyze the transformation of acts of terrorism over the years.Notably, societies have developed with time to accommodate newchanges in art, religion, education, and culture. Hence, power oftenshifts from one continent or country to another region because of theemergence of new world powers. For countries to maintain their power,they need to use force through military action to enhance theirideologies and exert their authority. In addition, within suchsocieties, the state and religion go hand in hand in that one factorcompliments the other. Military power gets credit for growingterritories and religions which who enjoy the political support. Forexample, In Islam Most believers used Jihad (holy war) as a waragainst non-Muslims. Notably, Christians also used wars andrebellions to defend their religion and convert non-believers toChristianity. Therefore, religion and violence complement eachother5.
Analysis and Interpretation
Acts ofterror are committed on a daily basis. However, it is difficult todefine terrorism owing to the nature of terrorist attacks indifferent societies and their outcome. To start, one must understandthat terrorism is a crime, which is unlawful and thus has legalimplications. People exert terrorism using weapons such as guns,grenades, land mines, bombs, and knives. Notably, in earlier times,the military fought wars using swords, spears, and machetes. However,development over time resulted in the emergence of new forms ofweaponry, which have the ability to destruct a mass population hencethe term weapons of mass destruction. At this time, most of the warswere justified and hence terrorism was not associated with rebellionand battles. If anything, such acts were honored by opposing sides.On the other hand, people within these societies who attacked theirneighbor, spouse, or enemy with a weapon received punishment forviolence depending on the outcome of their violent act6.
Theoccurrence of the World Wars one and two once again changed thedynamics of how people view terrorism. Before the wars, millions ofterrorist acts occurred in different parts of the globe. If anything,most of the attacks had a political and economical source ofinspiration. While religion is also behind a significant amount ofwars, it was not yet associated with terrorism. After the first andsecond world war, the emergence of new super powers became evident.Countries such as the US (United States), Japan, Russia, France,Germany, and the UK (United Kingdom) enjoyed enormous politicalpower. The world wars resulted in the death of millions of militantsand civilians caught up in the war. At this point, most communitiesexperienced gruesome attacks, which were different from past wars.Moreover, it is important to note that during the 1930s, the worldwitnessed the persecution of the Jews (Holocaust). The events led tothe recognition of the word genocide in 1944, which refers totargeting various groups, ethnicities and tribes with the intent todestruct/wipe out an entire society. After the world wars, eventssuch as the Geneva Convention begun to realize the essentiality ofcreating terms to define various acts associated with mass murder andacts of terror. In turn, people could classify various acts inaccordance to the definition written by bodies such as the UnitedNations7.
In the1970s, new waves of warfare emerged owing to the improvement oftechnological knowhow. Technology diversified from the military tothe air force, automobiles, and personal computers. More people wereable to understand different forms of crime and the law was clear onthe various punishments of the crimes whether committed within thecountry or during war. After 1970, the world has experiencedapproximately 140,000 terrorist attacks by offenders from differentreligions. However, most of the attacks were more ideological andpolitical as opposed to religious. One of the events that changed thedynamics of the way people across the globe view terrorism was theSeptember 11 terrorist attacks in the United States8.
Historiansargue that terrorism has always been in existence since the earliertimes. However, governments such as the United States have created aclear distinction between crimes like robbery, shootings, andgenocides from terrorism. In fact, the attack on the United Statesreinstated the notion that terrorism involved the use of weapons suchas (guns, grenades, and knives, bombs) is associated with religiousdoctrines as opposed to different ideologies. Most critics state thatthe United States is hypocritical to associate terrorism with Islamgiven that country played a significant role in the First and SecondWorld War. In addition, the presence of Americans in Arab countrieslike Iran in the mid 1900s resulted in the demoralization of theculture and religion of the people in these regions.Assuch, terrorism is viewed as a counter action of a marginalized groupon an ethnocentric territory. One of the distinctions betweenterrorist attacks and other violent crimes is that terrorist oftentake claim for their actions by defending the ideologies behind theiractions9.
Notably, mostof the attacks dubbed as terrorist attacks in the 21stcentury are associated with Islam given that terrorist such as OsamaBin Laden often declared war against countries like the United Statesand Israel. New terrorist groups have emerged over the years makingit difficult to define terrorism10.Withthat said, most groups as al-Quiada, Hezbollah, Hamas, al-Shabab,Boco Haram, and ISIS often justify their actions as a holy war, whichis done in the name of Allah11.Critics of this argument state that Christian groups also committerrorist acts. However, this form of terrorism is done differently.For example, extremist Christian groups such as the KKK often usedreligion to attack African Americans and to evoke white supremacy ontheir victims. Despite many examples of Christians using violenceagainst non believers, most people argue that the current terroristcells are Islam based12.
Options and Things that ShouldChange
Afterthe analysis and discussion of the transition of terrorism over theyears, it is evident that the meaning of the word is complex and isunderstood differently in different societies. One of the things thatshould change is the global view of terrorism. Terrorist acts occuron a daily basis making it difficult to classify. However, countriesshould come together and remove the bias driven by the media on howto classify terrorism. For instance, the US should define the variousgang violence incidents, shootings, and racist attacks as acts ofterror given that offenders commit these crimes with the intention ofinstilling their views and ideologies on their victims13.
Secondly,terrorism, genocides, and shootings should be investigated forfurther analysis on whether they are connected to religion, politics,or an economic factor. In turn, authorities can further classify suchillegal acts and discuss ways of addressing each factor. In the caseof terrorism fueled by religion, a lot of work has to be done. One ofthe solutions includes promoting inter-religious workshops amongstvarious groups. This will strengthen the ties between differentreligious groups. Therefore, members of each group will not feelmarginalized and threatened by conflicting religions14.
The issues ofterrorism are deep rooted. It dates back centuries ago and hence ischallenging to solve completely. With the three major religionsfighting for a section in Jerusalem, there can be no peace until allparties get the recognition they need. Terrorism and politics isrelated. To add on, economic power and terrorism also influence eachother. Hence, people who commit terrorist acts desire a certain typeof attention, which is difficult to fulfill. While most of theterrorist groups take advantage of their position and acquire wealthfrom some of the governments in their regions, there is no way ofnegotiating better terms. As such, countries should come together toreduce the authority of the terrorist through improving theirintelligence15.
To conclude,terrorism causes various security concerns in different parts of theworld such as Europe, Africa, the Middle East, and the Americas.Hence, one of the ways of stopping this dynamic is investigating theemergence of new terrorism and militant cells. Currently, one of themistakes is that intelligence targets particular religions. Securityshould look into the economic, social-cultural, environmental,political, and religious aspects of terrorism and its effect onvarious societies. In turn, new ideas concerning internal or homelandsecurity can be introduced to protect different countries.
Berman, Eli.Radical, religious, and violent: The new economics of terrorism.Cambridge, MA: MIT Press. 2009. Print.
Coolsaet,Rik. Jihaditerrorism and the radicalisation challenge in Europe.Aldershot, England: Ashgate. 2008. Print.
Gabriel,Mark. A, Islamand terrorism.Lake Mary, Florida : FrontLine.2015. Print.
Juergensmeyer,Mark. Terrorin the mind of God: The global rise of religious violence.Berkeley: University of California Press. 2003. Print.
Kurzman,Charles.  Themissing martyrs: Why there are so few Muslim terrorists.Oxford: Oxford University Press. 2011. Print.
1 Coolsaet, Rik. Jihadi terrorism and the radicalisation challenge in Europe. Aldershot, England: Ashgate. 2008. P. 56
2 Berman, Eli. Radical, religious, and violent: The new economics of terrorism. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press. 2009. P.27
4 Juergensmeyer, Mark. Terror in the mind of God: The global rise of religious violence. Berkeley: University of California Press. 2003. P.78
5 Berman, p.119
6 Coolsaet, p.71
7 Berman 31
8 Gabriel, Mark. A, Islam and terrorism. Lake Mary, Florida : FrontLine. 2015. P.92
9 Juergensmeyer p.18
10 Kurzman, Charles.  The missing martyrs: Why there are so few Muslim terrorists. Oxford: Oxford University Press. 2011. P.281
12 Gabriel p.118
13 Coolsaet p.45
14 Berman p. 97
15 Kurzman p.153