Terrorism In The Name Of Christianity, Islam And Hinduism

Generally linked with Islam, terrorism has now spread its wings to other religions

Daily hundreds and sometimes thousands are made the targets of terrorist activities around the globe. Armed attacks and bombings are the most common means through which terrorists practice their violent motives.

Deaths from Terrorist activities from 2007 to 2017
Source: Our World in Data

According to the Global Terrorism Index report of 2017, Iraq, Afghanistan, Nigeria, Syria, and Pakistan are the top five countries in terrorist activities. In the last decade, around 21,000 people died annually due to terrorist activities, says a report by Our World in Data.

Region-Country wise deaths from terrorist activities in 2017
Source: Our World in Data

Middle-East is the hub of terrorist activities in the world as it witnesses maximum attacks and deaths. Home to the Islamic countries, Middle-East is often linked to as the home of all the terrorist activities in the world. Leading terrorist organizations viz ISIS, Hamas have been out of this region. The other primary region for terrorist activities is the Afghanistan-Pakistan region which houses Taliban, Al-Qaeda, Lashkr-E-Taiba, etc.

According to a report by the United States Institute of Peace (USIP), there are three primary reasons for terrorism viz. Psychological, Ideological, and Strategic. Among these three, the most destructive source has been ideological.

According to Mark Juergensmeyer, former president of the American Academy of Religion,  there has been a global rise in religious nationalism after the Cold War due to a post-colonial collapse of confidence in Western models of nationalism and the rise of globalization.

Islam and terrorism

Various terrorist organizations rebel against the existing power either to enforce themselves or to spread their ideology. The history or the motivation relating to this ideology goes back to the religious scriptures of Islam which mentions Jihad as self-sacrifice for Islam.

According to the Global Terrorism Index of 2016, a staggering 74% of all deaths from Islamic terrorism were done by the Islamic terrorist groups ISIS, Boko Haram, the Taliban, and Al-Qaeda. The targets of these attacks are not only non-Muslims but also Muslims. The extremism in the name of religion (jihad) is directly and indirectly taken into consideration from the Quran, Hadith, and Sharia law.

The use of terms like shaheed and qurbani has been extensively used to lure young and blind minds in practicing terrorism. Young Muslims, as well as non-Muslims, are enticed by the tactics and practice suicide bombings only to die for the sake of their religion. A common idea that revolves around the minds is that suicide bombers, as they’ll be called martyrs (shaheed) to the cause of jihad against the enemy, will receive the rewards of paradise for their actions (suicide bombing, attacks, etc).

According to the International Business Times, in October 2014, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL or ISIS) released a five-point justification of its right to take non-Muslims hostage, and decapitate, ransom or enslave them. According to the Clarion Project, the British Muslim cleric Anjem Choudary says that kidnapping and beheading hostages is justified by Islam.

Christianity and terrorism

According to Mark Juergensmeyer, former president of the American Academy of Religion,  there has been a global rise in religious nationalism after the Cold War due to a post-colonial collapse of confidence in Western models of nationalism and the rise of globalization.

Terrorists who own their acts often interpret their actions sourced from the knowledge of various religious scriptures. Christian terrorist groups include paramilitary organizations, cults, and loose groups of people that might come together to attempt to terrorize other groups.

Ku Klux Klan

Ku Klux Klan was formed after the Civil War in the USA as a social group. In their initial years, the group was only a club with social elements but later it took violent turns when members started practicing lynchings, murder, rape, tar-and-feathering, whipping, and voter intimidation.

The Klan wore white robes to symbolize “purity,” burned crosses to signify “the Light of Christ” and picked selective scriptures from the Bible to preach white supremacy. According to Hate in God’s Name, a report published in 2017 says that “The members of Ku Klax Klan believe that white Christians are morally and spiritually superior to other races.”

Hindu Terrorism

Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS)

The country with the largest population of Hindu’s (followers of Hinduism) in the world is India. Over the years, India has been a target of many religiously motivated violent attacks by the Saffron army.

Saffron Army is the term given to followers of Hindu nationalism who perform violent acts. Most of the army personnel belong to the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) which is a Hindu right-wing organization. Citing its main motivation to make India a Hindu Rashtra (nation), members of RSS have been involved in many acts of unjust violence.

Among the various acts of violence by the members of RSS, the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi is the most impactful. Other violent acts by the members of RSS are:

  • 1999 killing of Graham Staines
  • 2002 Gujarat riots
  • 2007 Samjhauta Express bombings
  • 2007 Ajmer Dargah attack
  • 2008 Malegaon blasts
  • 2007 Mecca Masjid bombing

RSS runs and maintains many affiliated and student organizations viz.

  • Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)
  • Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP)
  • Bajrang Dal
  • Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP)

Students organizations of RSS play a very vital role to form a new breed of Hindu sevaks who would work their hearts and soul to propagate Hinduism.

Khalistan Movement

Khalistan Movement (1970s to 1980s)

Khalistan movement was a Sikh separatist movement to obtain freedom from Punjab and establish a sovereign state for Sikhs. The movement which began with no noise turned rebellious and violent and resulted in many terrorist activities in Punjab from the late 1970s to the mid-1980s.

Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale, who was the leader of the militant Sikh organization Damdami Taksal lead the Khalistan movement. The movement resulted in mass murders and violent acts over the years. The two primary political parties which were involved in the various whereabouts of Khalistan were the Indian National Congress and the Shiromani Akali Dal.

The movement destroyed property and lives and was suppressed after the assassination of the then India’s Prime Minister Indira Gandhi.

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