Home Editorial Editorial: Linking Extremism to Religion

Editorial: Linking Extremism to Religion

Western nations’ response to demonstrations against Israel’s invasion of Gaza recalls the same extremism it condemns in the rest of the world

by Editorial

File photo. Joel Saget—AFP

The prevailing view among much of the world—especially the West—is that extremism arises from religion, with Islam often superseding all other faiths. Resultantly, any anti-extremism campaign disproportionately targets Muslims, especially if the community deviates from government policies, as in the case of the Israeli bombardment of Gaza. Such campaigns also feed into right-wing narratives, as in India, where Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-backed groups and individuals continue to justify harassing Muslims by claiming to fight “extremism.” In Egypt, the Al-Azhar institution has declared joining the Muslim Brotherhood and other “terrorist” groups against shariah, while Iran has a history of executing so-called terrorists and Sudan has declared reformers apostates and executed them.

In Pakistan, meanwhile, blasphemy laws continue to attract controversy, with several mob lynching incidents arising from a public convinced of the legitimacy of its brutality under law and religion. Institutional extremism encourages extremist attitudes in society, prompting people to revolt if they feel the state is not sufficiently in line with their views. The domination of Muslim clergy in civil society encourages them to utilize violence if they feel thwarted from their right to rule and bring about the utopia they believe is only achievable through pure faith. Such xenophobic fulminations push youth toward international terrorism, a trend directly proportional to the violence allowed in the home state by the official orthodoxy.

Examples of this have played out in several Muslim nations, feeding into the West’s flawed belief of Islam being the motivator for extremism. In Iran, Ayatollah Montazeri’s objection to extreme actions against Iranian society after the Islamic Revolution prompted his rejection by Imam Khomeini, who defended the actions by citing the example of the treatment meted out to Banu Quraiza in the distant past. Egypt, similarly, has jailed novelists for writing “obscene” works, and in one instance declared a professor apostate, forcing his wife to leave him. Worryingly, Western nations’ response to protests against Israel’s invasion of Gaza—ranging from bans, blacklists, and pressure tactics—are evoking this past “extremism.”

Related Articles

Leave a Comment