Can Religious Extremism be posed as a new kind of Terrorism?

  • Originally from my Workshop Final paper

It can be said shortly and humorous that students’ life would be much better and easier  if their history book were thinner, which means there would be no war and every country should have lived in peace, therefore, the world would not have that many of milestones related to wars that make students memorized. But the world is the combination of many complicated things and us – citizens that are living on earth – are unpredicted creatures. Hence, when the term ”belief” emerged, human being with their unpredicted mind and their own willingness of a fulfilled life have led to many matters. One of the most typical matters here is Terrorism, it happens when conflicts between people and countries came up, with people fight for their own belief of their own definition of what make them happy and what make them feel it is right and it deserve for them to fight for. Therefore, one term that we thought it is simple now is “Religious Extremism” considered if it can be posed as a new kind of Terrorism or not.

First of all, before we can judge this matter, one of  the important things we have to do is to make ourselves a clear definition of “Religious Extremism”  then read between the lines in every single aspect of this topic.  According to Oxford Dictionaries, “extremism” is the holding of extreme political and religious view, (Oxford Dictionaries);  therefore, the term “Religious extremism” can be defined as if others do not follow their – the people that have a strong and extreme religion belief – ways, or their willingness are not completed or being rejected , those people who go back their wills will be damned with extremism and violent actions that may cause danger and threats for themselves . Based on current situation around the world through news and statements from scholars, I can affirm that when Religious extremism reaches to some level of their own scale, it and extremists are become global threats, which is commonly called Terrorism.

Commonly when we see an issue, we usually ask ourselves the very basic question :”Why this issue happened?” or “What is the root if this issue?” and search for these questions’ answer. As I mentioned above, when there are many people or groups found their own willingness fulfillment have conflicts, they will fight for their own belief, this is also true in Religion field, groups of people who strongly believe in their religion, distinguish their belief, advantages, and other factors from others; if there are more than such group exist, these religious groups would have conflicts with each others base on their different way of thinking and way of working.

Second reason might be when religious groups become more aggressive and have more negative actions then it also lead to violent actions. Although every group has their own slogan, motivation but the all have one thing in common is to serve the religion’s purpose, to create income as well as advantage for the religious group. And when that group suffers from struggle or their advantage being infringed, they will stand up for their belief, and violence is the best way to solve the problem, hence it will also cause extremism actions.

Another reason for this matter is found according to “extremism’s definition: political purpose. This happen when religion is taken to serve the economical and political purpose. This reason is normally depends on these groups’ leaders. These people will take excuses for their actions is for their religion. But to some extent, these actions will bring in economical advantage and political advantage for other organizations, and those organizations may bring some other income or advantage for them. As we can see when George Bush met with Palestinian Prime Minister Abbas in Aqaba, he claimed: “God told me to strike at al-Qaeda and I struck them and then He instructed me to strike at Saddam, which I did, and now I am determined to solve the problem in the Middle East.” (Arnon Regular, 2003). From this statement I believe that there is more than one purpose of G. Bush when he attacked Saddam, or caused a few conflicts with other countries and religions, we all know that America is “well-known” with their main income from selling weapons, therefore, when America government succeeded in causing conflicts, their purpose might be successful in economic aspect. As in political purpose for regional influence, we have seen religion’s role with Pakistani government and politics, not only the military used the religion group to create conflict in order to keep out of power the elected secular leaders but also how Pakistani react after the anti-Soviet Afghan War. “the way Kashmir struggle became more of a religious struggle than a political/ territorial dispute, says a lot about the impact of religious extremism.” (Arshi Saleem Hashmi, 2009). And there are still many more various examples about the truly motivation behind these extreme activities. Since this is extreme actions, there is no need to question why these religious groups use violence but not any other method, the answer is violence is the only way to express their social and political feelings.

Although we can see Religious extremism as a global security threat , but only when it reaches high level on its own scale, because according to Shibley Telhami (2005), there are extreme activities that not cause any damages/ catastrophic for community or these actions do not have enough capacity or support to do so even if they want to. Moreover, there are some countries have made the Extremism Level Charts to categorize this kind of threat. The first and primary level that I will introduce is the level that does not cause any catastrophic to the community: The Local level. People who have religious belief at this level are not dangerous, or may cause any dangerous actions, any damage for the public. Or we may sort this case is people with their “pure belief”. Even there are some cases have been reported about religious actions at this level, it is still not considered as dangerous  because it did not pose any kind of dangerous, catastrophic effect to community. Second, even if they do have the purpose to do any harm to community, they still could not do because their lack of support, capacity also strong enough force to do that. These people usually believe too much on their belief that sometimes they may have different explanations from normal/ people who do not have religious belief when talking about some aspect such as supernatural issues, or their habits in daily life; for example, Hindus do not marry outside their castes, (CNN Library), or Islamic people fasting during the daylight hours in the month of Ramadan ( But when the local level seems not to cause anything catastrophically then the Higher level of this scale can be defined as global security threat. may cause damages with extremely dangerous actions. These kind of groups have enough forces, capacity also capabilities to organize, boarder and deliver their message worldwide, and “a demonstrated global reach”. Their actions will affect on global scale. And when any religious group come to this level of extremism, they will surely become global security threat. They are not only aim to destroy other religions but also control the political situation of the world, therefore maintain their power, worship their belief and make advantage/ income from their extremism actions. One very typical example for this kind of extremism level is the case of al-Qaeda and their plans to over-throw the existing political order in the Muslim world and replace it with a Taliban-like fanatical order, and it sees the United States as the anchor of the existing order (Shibley Telhami, 2005). They have caused a lot of attacks also self-bomb, or sent cruelty messages to the world, challenge everyone to defeat them. Until the moment hearing that al-Qaeda’s leader is killed and his crew are arrested, the group is destroyed by President Obama’s military, I still believe that the net of al-Qaeda Taliban is still very wide and deserve for us to be aware of.

Through facts and news happen everyday, religious extremism not only causes damages, both about human being and material aspects but also from economical to education, environment, etc. Especially when religious extremism involved with nuclear matters, it will cause disaster on global scale, and this is may equal with diseases, starvation, environment problems. The most fundamental consequences are ruining World peace, cause misunderstanding between religions; turn religions from good beliefs to bad impressions, which means affect to people who have “pure belief”. Hence, the original values of religion will faded along with extremism actions.

To sum up, Religious extremism can be posed as a new kind of terrorism and what it causes for the world, at least for this moment is dangerous and can be defined as global security threat. And what make it become dangerous is the way leaders of the religious groups use it and serve not only its formal purposes but also for political and economical purposes. But at the moment, we should be aware not to jump into conclusion immediately with any religious activities because they might be just a action at local level. We must be smart readers and be a good filters with various news and articles about any issues that relate with global scale. And when people, especially people from their dangerous religious groups, still have their will to control the world in their ways or being too aggressive in every matters of the world, the fight between extremism and the desire for world peace will be an open ending story.


Reference List

  1. “Roadmap is life saver for us”, PM Abbas tells Hamas. Arnon Regular. Israel’s Haaretz newspaper. June 24, 2003.
  2. Pakistan Politics, Religion & Extremism. Arshi Saleem Hashmi. Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies (IPCS). May 21, 2009. Chapter V. p18.
  3. Hinduism Fast Facts. CNN Library. November 12, 2013. ( )
  4. 30 Facts about Islam. ( )
  5. Definition of “extremism”. Oxford Dictionaries Online. ( )
  6. Testimony Before the House Armed Service Committee between Terrorism and Religious Extremism. U.S. House of Representatives. Shibley Telhami. November 3, 2005.

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