The world is facing numerous challenges every day. However, one of the most prominent and most dangerous problems we face today is religious extremism. While Islamic Jihadists are the first to be on many people’s minds, there are many other religious groups who adopt extremist views. Subjective phrases that define extremism are “self-righteous” and “too far”. The Oxford Dictionary describes an extremist as a derogatory term for “a person who holds extreme political or religious views, especially one who advocates illegal, violent, or other extreme action.” Religious extremists are those who impose their religions on others.
They have intolerant views that often seek violent ways to penalize.All religions have one thing in common: they promote love and compassion as their themes. But throughout history, there has been an added commonality between religions and that is extremism. Religious fundamentalism, radicalism, violence all lead to one word: religious extremism.
And these titles, they all breed terrorism. These extremists are sanctimonious believers who have gone too far. These are the people who hinder individuality and cannot embrace distinctiveness. Religion varies because characters, experience, and history vary. Extremists are bred no from their love of their faith, but because of their lack of understanding of it. The most common religious extremists are the Muslims. Despite the religion’s teaching for peace, there have been many groups formed out of their interpretation of the Quran that Allah wants them to cleanse the world of non-Islam.
Over the many years, Al Qaeda set terror acts against innocent people. Even after the death of their founder, Osama Bin Laden, the group continued to thrive over the many years. The bombing of the World Trade Center in New York gave light to the extremist perspectives of Muslims. The last words of the man who crashed the plane were “Allah Akhbar!” which translates to “God Is Great!” In the recent years, a new group became prominent and rose to power in the Middle East: the Islamic State.
In May 2017, a group of Islamic extremists called the Maute Group attacked the city of Marawi in Mindanao, Philippines. In 2014, Global Terrorism Index stated that religious extremism has become the main factor of terrorism recently. They reported a rise of 60% in recorded deaths from the recorded 18,000 in 2013. More than half of these deaths in 2013 were pinned on four Islamic Extremist groups: Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), Boko Haram in Nigeria, Taliban in Afghanistan, and the al-Qaeda. A great number of the major events that happened over the years were attributed to groups with religious agenda. Altogether, death caused by terrorism increased five times greater since the 9/11 attack in 2001. These acts of violence and war all come from the Muslims’ interpretation of their Jihad – their internal struggle to make their souls holier. Terror groups are those that follow the lesser Jihad which is a Muslim’s responsibility to defend their faith by physical means.
Religious extremism has even been evident throughout history. Queen Mary I was known to many as the queen who killed many for her pursuits of restoring Roman Catholicism in Ireland and England. The different Inquisitions across many eras have proved Catholic extremism. There was the Witch Trials, the Spanish Inquisition, Portuguese Inquisition, and the like. The Inquisition was a system of government in the Roman Catholic Church where they counter heresy – the doubt or non-devotion to the Catholic Church or the Orthodox holy faith. Their punishments include all kinds of crimes and cruelty.
But Catholic extremism has been discretely and maybe even unconsciously practiced in the contemporary times. In 2003, former US President, George W. Bush, said that God was the one who asked him to “end tyranny” which led to the death of thousands and a long-time running civil war. He even tried to have the French president join him in the takeover by using the Bible. He claimed that he sees Afghanistan as “Undeniably, the Christians have also become instruments of violence and hate. Even though the Bible discourages conflict and war, there have been groups, both globally and locally, that uses the scriptures as a reason to harm. The Ku Klux Klan (KKK) established itself as a Christian organization committed to maintaining white supremacy.
Although they can be mainly accused of racism, The Klan identifies their beliefs as a “Christian moral reform”. Members would commit arson, murder, rape, assault, and much more to Mexicans and Catholics whom they don’t consider as the “right type of Christian”. The Klan is also widely known for lynching or killing someone (especially through hanging) for an alleged offense without legal trial by a mob. Members who defended lynching believed their actions were of Christian duty, made sacred by God’s will of racial transgression. Christian extremism has been having its resurgence ever since the election of US President Donald Trump.
A burning symbol of the swastika and the cross has been seen in 2016 and ever since then, The Klan member would be seen participating in different rallies and protests of anti-blacks and anti-homosexuality.The Jewish Defense League is an organization affiliated with Judaism. Their religious interpretation is that the Torah describes good and bad and right and wrong. Good and right is everything that promotes the Jewish people. Bad and wrong is everything that is harmful to the Jews. Their goal as a group is to “protect Jews from antisemitism by whatever means necessary”. They were recognized as “violent extremist Jewish organization” in 2004.
They were involved in a number of criminal acts especially between the decades of war between Israel and Palestine. Some Jews believe that they must stop at nothing to reclaim the Holy Land from the Muslims. This idea led to the formation of the various extremist’s groups such as the one mentioned above. Another Jewish extremists group is the Kach. They believed that all Arabs are enemies of Israel. To demonstrate their point, Kach members killed 29 Arabs in 1994. A Kach support group called the “Sword of David” has been involved in a number of roadside shooting and roadside bombing, significantly killing hundreds of people.A Hindu extremist group, the Bajrang Dal, endorses the use of terrorism to fight Christianity in India.
They believe that a true Hindu would choose to die before they would ever give up freedom. Their political goal is to reverse the attacks of Christianity and Islam in India. In November 2017, Muslims were being attacked by Buddhist extremists in Myanmar. There were thousands of Rohingya Muslims, an ethnic minority group, living in the west of Myanmar state of Rakhine. In less than a month, an estimate of 6,700 Rohingya and 730 children were killed in August of 2017. The US Secretary of State claimed these acts as ethnic cleansing since Myanmar is the second most-Buddhist country in the world. Being religiously devout does not mean you are automatically dangerous to the society. Same as the other way around, just because someone does not believe in God, it does not automatically make his beliefs a benefit to the world.
Faith and devotion to one’s belief is not the problem, but the evil beliefs one believes and acts on.Over the years, religious extremism of all kinds has gained prominence. Radicals have found a lot of ways to impose their extremist views on others.
It has been going on way before we even had the terms “religious extremism” to call it. It has affected every single person in this world. It has caused wars and blood to be shed.
It has cost lives. Religious extremism is a trend. It’s not something that will also fade away anytime soon. Especially with the emergence of different ideologies, this is a trend that impacts the society in a negative way; and it will stay for a very long time.