Religion is a form of organized belief and has been around since time immemorial. Roughly 89% of the world’s population believe in some religion. It is a driving force across the world and has been the cause of mass unification as well as disruption at various points in time. Over time, some religious groups have banded together and spread toxic behavior in the name of their religion. These acts have caused great public disturbance and have led to injury as well as loss of lives.
What is religious radicalism?
Religious radicalism is the committing of acts of violence and terror in the name of religion. Often, promoting the religious ideals are the goals for the acts.
Religious Radicalism in India
India is a secular country and is home to at least nine unique religions, like Hinduism, Islam, Christianity, Buddhism etc. All these religions have subsets of them, increasing the number of religions. With so many differing beliefs, India, as well as the world, has often struggled to find harmony making this diversity the cause of many arguments and acts of violence. These atrocious acts committed in the name of religion have become so commonplace, that we hardly bat an eye when we hear about it in the news. The Pew Research Centre Analysis ranked India as the fourth worst country for religious violence in the world.
A very controversial example of religious radicalism in India is the Babri Masjid case. Hindus regard this site as the birthplace of Ram. In the 1500’s, the Mughal king Babur invaded the north and built the Babri mosque on this site. This action has sparked great outrage because the Hindus feel like this was done to purposely hurt their sentiments. Hindus and Muslims have both worshipped in this area, but fights would frequently break out. This history of unrest culminated in the demolition of the mosque by Hind activists on 6th December 1992. Who is right is debatable. But, is it okay to break down a building in the name of protecting your religion?
And Even Terrorism…
The horrific 26/11 attacks in Mumbai were committed by Lashkar-e-Taiba, a militant Islamic terrorist group that aims at liberating Muslims in ‘Indian Pakistan.’ In the name of their religion, approximately 170 people were killed.
India’s history is littered with religious violence, extending from before the Mughal Empire to the colonial era to present day. It has caused the destruction of property, loss of life and public disruption. According to the Centre for Policy Research, New Delhi, an average of 130 people have died every year in the period of 2005-2009 due to religious violence. Religious violence is not a thing of the past and crimes are not committed by just one group. It is unfortunate, but each and every religious group have persecuted or have been persecuted in the name of religion.
Radicalism Across the World
Religious violence is prevalent all over the world. One source reports the world’s annual average deaths caused by religious violence to be 7.9 per 1,00,000. We frequently hear of gunmen opening fire in schools in the USA, or of terrorist attacks in Europe. Syria is a war-torn nation and has been in this state for several years.
Religious violence outside India dates back to the times of witch hunts, where Christians burnt women alive for their practices of religions that weren’t Christianity. World War II is also an example of religious violence, where a crowd united in their belief in Christianity, persecuted the Jews. Around 6 million Jews lost their lives, simply because of their religion. This too is a form of religious radicalism, where a person is persecuted for the religion they belong to. The Ku Klux Klan went to violent extents to spread their beliefs. The 9/11 attacks committed by a militant Islam group altered the lives of many and changed the way an entire country viewed Islam.
People who commit crimes in the name of religion distort and cite scriptures and religious text as a defense for the atrocities they commit. Regardless of whether or not this is true, it is still not an excuse to murder and pillage. We should seek to find harmony and not discord in our differences. As progressive as we believe ourselves to be, religious violence still occurs. It is possible to join the Ku Klux Klan through inline portals and there are people who identify as “Neo-Nazis”, following their beliefs despite the death and destruction they caused. It is high time that we realize that every human has the right to practice the religion of their choice, does not imply that we can commit crimes in the name of religion.