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Religious Terrorism - Essay Example

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Does "religious terrorism" lead to more intense violence and claim more lives than "secular terrorism" This question, which the paper will attempt to discuss and answer, should be viewed within a global context, especially since the US, UK and other allied countries have declared war on terror…
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Religious Terrorism Essay
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Religious Terrorism

Both the US and UK leaders are careful not to cross the line and publicly condemn Islam in its entirety, offend Muslim allies and fail to get the support of the "moderate" Muslims. However the terms that Bush and Blair have used are clear condemnations of at least a part of Islam.
However, other statements from official and unofficial sources and media's treatment of the issue have gone further, reducing the world's perception of the situation to a battle between civilizations, between demons and angels, good and evil, black and white. Former US Speaker of the House and neo-conservative Newt Gingrich has openly spoken of World War III between "the West and the forces of Islam" and ruled out the possibility, and even desirability, of accommodation and compromise between the two parties (Lobe, 2006). The grandson and namesake of former British Prime Minister Winston Churchill spoke of "radical Islam" as a threat equal to the WWII Nazis and Soviets in the Cold War era. The concept of Islam as the "main threat to Western civilization" has also been popularised by writers such as Samuel Huntington in his work, The Clash of Civilizations (Nasser, 2006).
The question that must first be addressed is how big a threat terrorism actually is to global peace and human security. The US State Department has defined terrorism as "premeditated and politically motivated violence perpetrated against non-combatant targets bygroups or clandestine agentsto influence an audience" (Whitaker, 2001). In its 2006 Country Reports on Terrorism, the US State Department reported that 14,000 terrorist attacks were launched all over the world, resulting in 20,000 fatalities or an average of 1.4 fatalities per attack. These figures represent an additional 25 percent in the number of attacks and an additional 40 percent in the number of deaths compared to 2005. It should however be clarified that fully 45 percent of the incidents and 65 percent of the fatalities reported were concentrated in Iraq, a nation where the entry and continued presence of the US-led coalition has sparked off some intense resistance (often reported as terrorist activities) from many sections of the population.

Demons and Angels 4
On the other hand, the Human Security Report (2005), after three years of an intensive research effort, concluded that political violence has decreased significantly since the early 1990s (with the only exception being international terrorism). The study, which was supported by the UK, Canada, Norway, Sweden and Switzerland, noted an increase in the total number of terrorism-related casualties from 1982-2003. However, even with this trend, the casualties from terrorism still amount to less than 1,000 people each year for the last three decades, and comprise only a "small fraction" of total fatalities due to political violence (including wars and genocides) or even common crime.
Despite that relatively low number, the public's fears and insecurities have been exacerbated by high profile terrorist attacks since the entry of the new millennium, namely the July 2005 bombings in London, which killed more than 50 and injured hundreds, the March 2004 bombings in Madrid which killed 190 and ... Read More
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