Guide The Image: A Christian Rethinks Islamic Terrorism

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It is a well-worn trope of dystopian fiction, from Nineteen Eighty-Four to A Clockwork Orange, but it is arguable whether or not such a feat is actually possible in the real world. Even if it were, it would require a great deal of time and effort. Supposed examples involve US soldiers subjected to prolonged, intense mistreatment in Korean prisoner of war camps, or people living entirely within closed cults. This is nothing like the circumstances that led British men to fight in Syria.

Aseel Muthana, for example, insisted to ITV News that he didn't discuss his plans with imams at his local mosque in Cardiff or his parents because "we knew it would [have] brought us trouble". Similarly, the father of Abdullah Deghayes, a jihadi from Brighton, insisted his son and his associates were not encouraged by anyone around them.

The idea that people freely choose to do terrible things is one that we find hard to accept.

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Even those who deny that anyone has free will generally accept that there is a difference between voluntary and involuntary actions, and fighting jihad does not fall into the latter camp. The problem is not a lack of free will but a more prosaic impaired decision-making. What should really frighten us about this is that the errors jihadis make are all simply versions of much more common ones. To understand this, we need to start by accepting that even the criminally insane do things for reasons.

In the case of the Yorkshire Ripper, Peter Sutcliffe, who believed God was calling him to kill prostitutes, those reasons are clearly the product of a deluded mind. But usually there is at least something plausible in the reasons people have to do wicked things. For jihadis, the narrative is that Islam is the true faith and that it is threatened by a hostile, kafir world. Given that millions throughout history have died to defend their religions, we cannot dismiss those who do the same now as simply deranged.

What's more, living in a country with a lot of anti-Islamic feeling, there is plenty of positive reinforcement for their feelings of persecution. They occurred in large part because Christian communities became increasingly uncomfortable with Crusader language and motifs. The reasons were manifold, but three are particularly notable. Second, there was increased understanding of the offence of the language to many Muslims and people of other faiths. Third, a greater sensitivity to the harm and risk posed to Christian minorities in parts of the world where the Crusades were regarded not as past history but a symbol of ongoing Western and by implication Christian aggression and hostility to Islam.

In this context, Crusader language and imagery became positively embarrassing, if not repugnant. It was recognised as a significant impediment to improving relations between Christians and Muslims in many parts of the world. While many supporters will use the Crusaders name with little thought to its origins and implications, it remains an anachronism and source of discomfort to many New Zealanders—Muslim, Christian, secular and others. If the Crusaders franchise and New Zealand Rugby chose, as they might, to consult with the Christian community, they are unlikely to find great enthusiasm for retaining the current name.

Indeed, New Zealand Christians will probably be grateful to see it go.


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Top Stories This does not mean we should be afraid of bathtubs, nor does it mean terrorism is not among the problems that need to be solved with a high priority. Other related content. Summers Dawn. A Sack Full Of Blood. Wilkinson writes that the al-Qaida network portray themselves as fighting a holy war and use religious language to legitimize their terrorist attacks.

However, their political agenda is to force the U. Al-Qaida uses the Muslim communities and mosques in the West to recruit, seek aid, and conduct covert operations, even though the majority of Muslims who live in the West reject terrorism. The conflict among some worshippers of Islam helps us to understand some of the religious violence of today. It refers to the religious doctrine preached by the Prophet Muhammad during the A. Those who believe in this doctrine are called Muslims.

Over one-fifth of the global population is Muslim and they reside in countries throughout the world Figure Conflicts among Muslims over the rightful succession of Muslim rulers led to disputes within Islam. Civil war resulted in two Muslim sects that remain today, along with a history of conflict. The Sunni branch is the larger of the two sects and members dominate the Middle East. They are followers of the teachings of Muhammad.

Al-Qaida is primarily Sunni. Shiite is the minority sect. They believe that Ali, cousin and son-in-law of Muhammad, is the Prophet of Islam. Shiite activism promoted the Iranian revolution of and emphasized that Islam should be lived as a tool of the oppressed, besides being a religious doctrine.

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The conflict that followed pitted the formerly oppressed Shiites supported by coalition forces to establish a new government against Sunnis. Figure A mosque in the United States. Most Muslims are not violent, and stereotyping them is wrong. Ford writes about opinions and perceptions of the United States by Arabs and others. The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is a primary topic of contention.

The perception is that Israel can get away with murder and the Unites States will turn a blind eye. Arab media shows countless photos of Israeli soldiers killing and wounding Palestinians and Israeli tanks plowing through Palestinian neighborhoods. Ford refers to the dominance of state-run media in the Middle East and how it often fans the flames of anti-American and anti-Israeli feelings because it helps to divert citizens away from the shortcomings of their own government.

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Ford notes that the United States has provided billions of dollars of military and economic aid to Israel and other regional allies to strengthen U. Future attacks might be more devastating and include weapons of mass destruction. The Holy Land was left to the Muslims Queller, The violence between the Israelis and the Palestinians is an example of religious and political conflict. Wilkinson : writes that the al-Qaida network portray themselves as fighting a holy war and use religious language to legitimize their terrorist attacks.

The conflict among some worshippers of Islam helps us to understand some of the religious violence today. Islam is one of the world's largest religions and it refers to the religious doctrine preached by the Prophet Muhammad during the A. Over one-fifth of the global population is Muslim and they reside in countries throughout the world.

The perception is that Israel can get away with murder and the United States will turn a blind eye. Greenberg points out that the causes of the growth of fundamentalism include the Israel-Egypt peace agreement, the Iranian revolution, and the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. John P.


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A disparate thread of social scientific attention is to religion as deviance and immorality. Moral crusades have been undertaken countless times against religious groups.

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The Crusades, the many periods of persecution of Jews, religious conflicts between Catholics and Protestants in sixteenth- and seventeenth-century Europe, the execution of hundreds of Christians in seventeenth-century Japan, the Mormon expulsion from Missouri and Illinois in the s, the Branch Davidian conflagration, the massacre of Muslims in Kosovo, and the continuing conflicts between Muslim Pakistan and Hindu India are but a few examples of how perceptions of outsider religious groups can turn to violence.

Although persecution, mass executions, and ethnic cleansing are extreme forms of social control used against religious groups, many more subtle methods have also been used. The pejorative use of the term cult brings to mind how some religious groups are seen as deviant and often labeled as immoral due to their beliefs and behaviors. Yet virtually all major religious traditions began as deviant groups, at odds with the prevailing culture and acting in a manner that was easily termed abnormal or illicit.

For example, the early Christian church was illegal during certain periods of the Roman occupation and persecution — by Romans, Jews, and others — for perceived immoral practices was rampant. Not only were they considered deviant for not worshipping Roman gods and for failing to require converts to be circumcised, but they also were the object of rumors of child sacrifice and cannibalism Gaddis, Moreover, religiousness has often been linked to mental illness.

Whereas many early psychological and psychiatric researchers assumed that religious believers were likely delusional or prone to mental illness and thus labeled as deviant by the prevailing medical standards of the time , more recent scholarship has disproved this assumption. Once again, this may reflect the beneficial aspects of belonging to a community of like-minded people who provide social support and sustenance, rather than a unique effect of religious participation or beliefs. In the wake of the sociological model, attention was first given to the effects of social class and religion, even more so in Europe, where party systems were built historically on the bases of social and religious conflicts and cleavages see Lipset and Rokkan, Rose's classic study of voting patterns in 15 democracies shows that class in Scandinavian countries and religion in the others are by far the most predictive factors explaining postwar electoral behavior, a working-class position predisposing to a left-wing vote and regular church attendance to a right-wing vote.

Then, in the s, the Michigan paradigm became the leading model, inspiring nationwide research surveys in Europe Thomassen, especially in Britain, where Butler and Stokes explained long-term alignments of British voters by their party identification, itself rooted in their social backgrounds. What became known as the two-class, two-party model does not fit as well in countries such as France, with its multiparty system. The proportion of independent voters, who define themselves as neither Republican nor Democrat, doubled between and Among those who still identify themselves with one side or the other, the proportion who declare a strong attachment or have a positive image of a party is declining, and the very link between party preference and voting is weakening.

Voters seem more interested in politics, more aware of the issues at stake, and more inclined to choose their candidates according to their political stands, whatever party they belong to. Social and geographical mobility is blurring the traditional class cleavages and loosening community ties. Progress in education and exposure to the media have increased the average levels of political sophistication. The rise of the permissive and individualistic set of values coined as postmaterialist by sociologist Inglehart The Silent Revolution , encourages a new style of politics, more demanding and protest prone, and promotes new postmaterialist issues — environmental, feminist — that cut through traditional party lines.

All these trends converge to make citizens less dependent upon existing parties to make their choices.

Voters are seen as being autonomous, strategic, rational, or reasoning, and the developing cognitive sciences enrich studies of political reasoning mechanisms, the way voters process and organize information, the cues they rely on to make decisions, etc. The distinction between early modern protonationalism and modern nationalism thus is not as sharp as modernist theorists posit.

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