Beyond religion: religion and fundamentalism

“How would we cover this story if the abuser was a member of the majority?” ” request Dalia Mogahed to the Beyond Religion panel on religion and fundamentalism.

Mogahed, research director at the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding, explained that this question is crucial in reporting on religious extremism, but often overlooked, as evidenced by the current rise in fundamentalism. From the United States to Nigeria, many claims have been made regarding the root of ideologically based violence. Meanwhile, researchers and journalists are struggling to understand and define the intersection between religion and fundamentalism.

Editor-in-chief of the Pulitzer Center Indira lakshmanan led a discussion in which panelists shared their knowledge of fundamentalism, as well as suggestions for a more enlightened future.

Filmmaker Amit Madheshiya explains the subject of his film, The Hour of the Lynching, during the “Beyond Religion” conference. Image by Jin Ding. Washington, DC, 2019.

“I don’t think any religion teaches us to be so violent,” said Amit Madheshiya, co-director of Lynching time, a documentary supported by the Pulitzer Center on the mass lynchings of Indian Muslims.

Madheshiya explained that 47 Indian Muslims have been lynched since 2014, the same year Prime Minister Narendra Modi took office. While many claim that only Hindu extremism caused the killings, Madheshiya believes the government’s inaction played a significant role.

“They know that nothing is going to happen to them,” Madheshiya said. But, as a filmmaker, he feels able to prevent future lynchings.

Madheshiya added: “If we keep quiet… we are complicit in this kind of spectacle. “

In Nigeria, Boko Haram began as a religious movement aimed at ending corruption. However, the stock journalist Sarah topol says these connections are much less common now.

“The children I interviewed [within camps] … Did not pray five times a day, not even once a day, ”Topol said. “None of them are actually using religion in the way we necessarily think they would, because it is mainly a power struggle between them.”

Topol explained that religion has, in fact, encouraged the rise of fundamentalism, but found that much of religious ideology has been left behind in the process.

Now it is possible that religion can help reintegrate former child soldiers, whom it has heard referred to as “corrupt, sinful snakes … in the grass.” Rather than dividing, cultural respect for religion could unite peers if religious leaders “can convince the community that these children are not responsible for the crimes they committed when they were brainwashed by a group claiming to be religious, ”Topol said.

Dalia Mogahed addresses a spectator during the “Beyond Religion” conference. Image by Jin Ding. Washington, DC, 2019.

“The American media (…) use the word terrorism almost exclusively to refer to Muslims, despite the fact that other acts would meet the definition,” Mogahed said, referring to recent ISPU research, which revealed that authors perceived by Muslims receive 770% more media coverage. as the authors perceived by non-Muslims.

This is happening despite the fact that the majority of ideological violence in America involves non-Muslim perpetrators, according to Mogahed.

Fellow journalist Ben taub of The New Yorker also explored the links between religion and violence while reporting on ISIS.

“There were definitely some die-hard jihadists who believe completely and completely in this ideology and have recruited from it,” Taub said. “But with these guys it’s not just about capturing the institution, it’s about how to run it.”

Although religion itself is often the scapegoat for the crimes of the self-proclaimed Islamic State, Taub explained that the combination of “the cosmic certainty of radical jihadism with the power of the police state” has really heightened the influence of ISIS.

Because the future of religion with respect to fundamentalism is indeterminate, individuals must be vigilant when creating and consuming information about the intersection of the two. In this panel, speakers explained that the assimilation of correlation and causation generates problems within cultures, which are inherently more than the acts of violence or the religious beliefs that seem to unite them.

Until there is a full and definite relationship between religion and fundamentalism, “having a healthy skepticism about how an incident is described” could lead to a better understanding of the complex intersection, Mogahed said. .

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