Special Issue "Religion & Violence"

A special issue of Religions (ISSN 2077-1444).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (1 September 2015)

Printed Edition Available!
A printed edition of this Special Issue is available here.

Special Issue Editor

Guest Editor
Prof. Dr. John L. Esposito

University Professor, Professor of Religion & International Affairs and of Islamic Studies, Georgetown University, 3700 O St NW, Washington, DC 20057, USA
Website | E-Mail
Interests: International Affairs; lsamic Studies

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

The topic of religion, violence and terrorism has drawn increasing attention from academic and terrorism experts, policymakers, government agencies, and the media globally. This Special Issue will be unique in that it will not only have several chapters on methodological issues but a majority devoted to contemporary case studies from major religious traditions. In each case, the author will initially give a brief background on the religious resources (scriptural, theological and historical) in the tradition that are related to violence and conflict before describing and analyzing whether and why the primary causes are religion and/or political economy (ethnicity, tribal, etc.)

Prof. Dr. John L. Esposito
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

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Keywords

  • religion and violence,
  • religion and terrorism,
  • Islam and global terrorism,
  • conflict resolution

Published Papers (8 papers)

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Research

Open AccessArticle Religion and Politics: What Does God Have To Do with It?
Religions 2015, 6(4), 1330-1344; doi:10.3390/rel6041330
Received: 22 July 2015 / Revised: 3 November 2015 / Accepted: 4 November 2015 / Published: 12 November 2015
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Abstract
Since 9/11, and even more so with the atrocities committed by ISIS in Iraq and Syria, violence in the name of God is predominantly perceived as a “different” kind of violence, which triggers more “absolute” and radical manifestations than its secular counter parts.
[...] Read more.
Since 9/11, and even more so with the atrocities committed by ISIS in Iraq and Syria, violence in the name of God is predominantly perceived as a “different” kind of violence, which triggers more “absolute” and radical manifestations than its secular counter parts. In its first part, this article will challenge this so called exceptionalism of religious violence by questioning the neat divide between politics and religion that makes any forms of interactions between the two illegitimate or dangerous. It will look specifically at state actions vis-à-vis religions since the inception of the nation-state and show that the most extreme cases of violence in the name of religion are actually closely associated with specific forms of politicization of religion initiated by “secular” state actors and/or institutions. It argues that the “hegemonic” status granted to a religion by the state is often associated with greater political violence, building on research conducted in Egypt, Turkey, Iraq, and Pakistan. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Religion & Violence) Printed Edition available
Open AccessArticle When Art Is the Weapon: Culture and Resistance Confronting Violence in the Post-Uprisings Arab World
Religions 2015, 6(4), 1277-1313; doi:10.3390/rel6041277
Received: 6 August 2015 / Accepted: 23 September 2015 / Published: 5 November 2015
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Abstract
This articles explores the explosion of artistic production in the Arab world during the so-called Arab Spring. Focusing on music, poetry, theatre, and graffiti and related visual arts, I explore how these “do-it-yourself” scenes represent, at least potentially, a “return of the aura”
[...] Read more.
This articles explores the explosion of artistic production in the Arab world during the so-called Arab Spring. Focusing on music, poetry, theatre, and graffiti and related visual arts, I explore how these “do-it-yourself” scenes represent, at least potentially, a “return of the aura” to the production of culture at the edge of social and political transformation. At the same time, the struggle to retain a revolutionary grounding in the wake of successful counter-revolutionary moves highlights the essentially “religious” grounding of “committed” art at the intersection of intense creativity and conflict across the Arab world. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Religion & Violence) Printed Edition available
Open AccessArticle Violent Jihad and Beheadings in the Land of Al Fatoni Darussalam
Religions 2015, 6(4), 1203-1216; doi:10.3390/rel6041203
Received: 11 August 2015 / Revised: 23 September 2015 / Accepted: 24 September 2015 / Published: 14 October 2015
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Abstract
The early 2000s has seen a revival of the Patani resistance manifesting in a violent jihad and new forms of extreme violence never witnessed before in the century-long Southern Thailand conflict. Transported by neojihadism, this new energised generation of fighters is injecting new
[...] Read more.
The early 2000s has seen a revival of the Patani resistance manifesting in a violent jihad and new forms of extreme violence never witnessed before in the century-long Southern Thailand conflict. Transported by neojihadism, this new energised generation of fighters is injecting new meaning to their struggle, re-identifying friends and foes, spreading terror in hearts and minds to control mental and physical spaces through the slashing of the body, all in the hope of establishing Al Fatoni Darussalam. This article examines the reflexive repositioning of the Patani struggle through the process of transference of neojihadism and its transformation into a glocalised violent jihad. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Religion & Violence) Printed Edition available
Open AccessArticle Boko Haram: Religion and Violence in the 21st Century
Religions 2015, 6(4), 1182-1202; doi:10.3390/rel6041182
Received: 16 July 2015 / Revised: 16 September 2015 / Accepted: 22 September 2015 / Published: 30 September 2015
Cited by 2 | PDF Full-text (246 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Boko Haram in Nigeria provides an important example of the combination of religion and violence in the conditions of the twenty-first century. It is both a movement in the pattern of religiously-justified violence and a significant representative of the emergence of new types
[...] Read more.
Boko Haram in Nigeria provides an important example of the combination of religion and violence in the conditions of the twenty-first century. It is both a movement in the pattern of religiously-justified violence and a significant representative of the emergence of new types of modern terrorism in recent years. This article examines both of these aspects of Boko Haram as an example of religious violence. In the general development of religiously justified violence, Boko Haram is the heir to a long jihad tradition in West Africa. Its emergence follows well-established patterns of older militant Muslim groups, but it also departs significantly from those patterns as it shapes itself as a movement in the patterns of contemporary, twenty-first century modes of religious violence. Boko Haram is also identified, in twenty-first century terms, as a religious terrorist organization. As a religious terrorist group, it fits the pattern of what David Rapoport calls the fourth wave—the religious wave—of modern terrorism. However, in the second decade of the twenty-first century, Boko Haram exhibits characteristics of a new style of religious terrorism that is more like the so-called Islamic State than the older type of terrorist organization of al-Qa’idah. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Religion & Violence) Printed Edition available
Open AccessArticle Explaining Support for Sectarian Terrorism in Pakistan: Piety, Maslak and Sharia
Religions 2015, 6(4), 1137-1167; doi:10.3390/rel6041137
Received: 20 July 2015 / Revised: 4 September 2015 / Accepted: 7 September 2015 / Published: 25 September 2015
Cited by 3 | PDF Full-text (2183 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
In the discourse around sectarian violence in Pakistan, two concerns are prominent. The first is the contention that piety, or the intensity of Muslim religious practice, predicts support for sectarian and other forms of Islamist violence. The second is the belief that personal
[...] Read more.
In the discourse around sectarian violence in Pakistan, two concerns are prominent. The first is the contention that piety, or the intensity of Muslim religious practice, predicts support for sectarian and other forms of Islamist violence. The second is the belief that personal preferences for some forms of sharia also explain such support. As I describe herein, scholars first articulated these concerns in the “clash of civilizations” thesis. Subsequent researchers developed them further in the scholarly and policy analytical literatures that explored these linkages through qualitative and quantitative methodologies. I revisit these claims in the particular context of sectarian violence in Pakistan. To do so, I use several questions included in a recent and large national survey of Pakistanis to create indices of both piety and support for three dimensions of sharia. I use these indices as explanatory variables, along with other explanatory and control variables, in a regression analysis of support for sectarian violence, the dependent variable. I find that the piety index and dimensions of sharia support are significant only when district fixed effects are excluded; however, personal characteristics (i.e., the particular school of Islam respondents espouse, ethnicity, several demographics) most consistently predict support for sectarian violence. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Religion & Violence) Printed Edition available
Open AccessArticle Islam and Political Violence
Religions 2015, 6(3), 1067-1081; doi:10.3390/rel6031067
Received: 31 July 2015 / Revised: 20 August 2015 / Accepted: 21 August 2015 / Published: 10 September 2015
Cited by 2 | PDF Full-text (223 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
The global threat of Al Qaeda post 9/11 and ISIL, increased Sunni-Shia conflicts, and violence in the Middle East and Pakistan dominate headlines and challenge governments in the region and globally. Both Muslim extremists and some Western experts and observers speak of a
[...] Read more.
The global threat of Al Qaeda post 9/11 and ISIL, increased Sunni-Shia conflicts, and violence in the Middle East and Pakistan dominate headlines and challenge governments in the region and globally. Both Muslim extremists and some Western experts and observers speak of a clash of civilizations or a culture war in Muslim-West relations. Both the discourse and violence yet again raise questions about the relationship of Islam to violence and terrorism: is Islam a particularly violent religion? Critics cite Quranic passages, doctrines like jihad and events in Muslim history as strong indicators and proof that Islam is the primary driver of Muslim extremism and terrorism. What do the Quran and Islamic law have to say about violence, jihad and warfare? What are the primary drivers of terrorism in the name of Islam today? This article will address these questions in the context of development of global jihadist movements, in particular Al Qaeda and ISIL, their roots, causes, ideology and agenda. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Religion & Violence) Printed Edition available
Open AccessArticle Comparative Framework for Understanding Jewish and Christian Violent Fundamentalism
Religions 2015, 6(3), 1033-1047; doi:10.3390/rel6031033
Received: 21 July 2015 / Revised: 20 August 2015 / Accepted: 21 August 2015 / Published: 31 August 2015
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Abstract
Although most scholars agree that in the last couple of decades, religious fundamentalism has become the dominant ideological feature in the landscape of modern terrorism, many prefer to ignore the fact that this is not a development which is restricted to the Islamic
[...] Read more.
Although most scholars agree that in the last couple of decades, religious fundamentalism has become the dominant ideological feature in the landscape of modern terrorism, many prefer to ignore the fact that this is not a development which is restricted to the Islamic world, and that other religious traditions have also experienced growth in groups which prefer to use violent strategies to promote their sacred visions. The current chapter strives to fill this gap by analyzing the emergence of violent religious groups in two distinct, non-Islamic, religious traditions. At first glance, the Christian Identity and the Religious-Zionist movements have very little in common. However, both movements served as a breeding ground for the emergence of violent fundamentalist groups aspiring to facilitate an apocalyptic/redemption scenario by engaging in illegal violent campaigns. Moreover, in both cases, the role of spiritual leaders was crucial in shaping the radicalization of the groups and their target selection, and the violence had a clear symbolic narrative. In other words, for the members of these violent groups, the violence served a clear role in the mobilization of potential supporters, and the branding and dissemination of the movement's ideology. Finally, while in general, terrorism is perceived as the weapon of the weak, in these two cases it was perpetrated by individuals/groups affiliated to communities belonging to the dominant religious framework in their respective polities (i.e., the Religious-Zionist and Christian Identity movements are perceived by their members as branches of Judaism and Christianity). Hence, by utilizing a comparative framework, the article will not just analyze the violent manifestations that emerged from these two movements, but also try to identify the unique factors that characterize and facilitate the emergence of religious groups within religious communities belonging to the dominant religious tradition in their societies. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Religion & Violence) Printed Edition available
Open AccessArticle Entering the Mindset of Violent Religious Activists
Religions 2015, 6(3), 852-859; doi:10.3390/rel6030852
Received: 30 June 2015 / Revised: 11 July 2015 / Accepted: 16 July 2015 / Published: 23 July 2015
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Abstract
How can one enter the mindset of religious activists whose worldview and values are different from one’s own? This is the challenge for analyzing contemporary violent religious movements and individuals around the world. This essay suggests guidelines, based on the author’s interview experience,
[...] Read more.
How can one enter the mindset of religious activists whose worldview and values are different from one’s own? This is the challenge for analyzing contemporary violent religious movements and individuals around the world. This essay suggests guidelines, based on the author’s interview experience, for entering religious minds through informative encounters, relational knowledge, bracketing assumptions, and constructing a view of the whole. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Religion & Violence) Printed Edition available

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