The Disconnection Between Religions And Radicalism

An interesting piece from The Guardian:

ISIS did not invent terrorism: it draws from a pool that already exists. The genius of Isis is the way it offers young volunteers a narrative framework within which they can achieve their aspirations.

To summarise: the typical radical is a young, second-generation immigrant or convert, very often involved in episodes of petty crime, with practically no religious education, but having a rapid and recent trajectory of conversion/reconversion, more often in the framework of a group of friends or over the internet than in the context of a mosque.

Which becomes even more inspiring when read along with this one from Aeon:

In short, Buddhism, to its practitioners, is not an ‘accoutrement’ to life or ‘just’ a philosophy – it is a full-bodied religion whose adherents are eager to protect. The myth of Buddhism as a wholly peaceful religion ignores Buddhists’ agency and diversity – and the fact that they will go to great lengths to defend their religion, whether by way of pistol-bearing monks or self-immolating protesters.

No religion has a monopoly on ‘violent people’, nor does any one religion have a greater propensity for violence. Rather, social conditions such as poverty and societal upheavals generate violent behaviour, regardless of religion. It is no coincidence that poorer regions and neighbourhoods suffer higher crime rates. When people find the world changing around them, they turn to their religion to make sense of things. Some look to religion as a means to preserve what they have, and religion provides a way of understanding one’s place in the world and, more importantly, one’s duty.

That is to say, there’s no hard-coded connection between religions and radicalism. It’s true that not all religions are created equal — some teachings of certain religions are surely removed from morals and values widely recognized nowadays — but no religion are born to be peace or violent, either. The only difference is how high the possibility is for their believers to be radicalized, which, as the mentioned essays revealed, has little to do with the religion per se, either.

In any sense, religions are merely pieces of glass in various shapes, through which people observe the world from different perspectives, and, more importantly, serving as mirrors, reflecting the ego of the observers.