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Nonviolence USA Special Feature

Anti-Fundamentalism

An Archaeology of Analysis and Action


Because we need to think carefully about the role of fundamentalisms in a New World Order



  • Nigeria: Local Leadership on Women's Rights
    Open Letter from BAOBAB (May 1, 2003) Africa Action

    Dominant colonialist discourses and the mainstream international media have presented Islam (and Africa) as the barbaric and savage Other. Please do not buy into this. Accepting stereotypes that present Islam as incompatible with human rights not only perpetuates racism but also confirms the claims of right-wing politico-religious extremists in all of our contexts. We appreciate that many who join letter writing campaigns are motivated by the same sense of international solidarity and feminist outrage that leads us at BAOBAB to participate in international actions. But when protest letters re-present negative stereotypes of Islam and Muslims, they inflame sentiments rather than encouraging reflection and strengthening local progressive movements. They may result in behaviour such as that of the Zamfara State governor over Bariya Magazu, or even more threatening, hostile and violent behaviour by vigilantes (in extra-legal acts by non-state actors like the hordes of young unemployed men who are the bulk of the vigilantes). Consequently, such letters can put in further danger both the victims who are easily reachable in their home communities, and, the activists and lawyers supporting them (who are particularly vulnerable when they have to walk through hostile crowds on their way to court, for instance).

    Muslim discourses and the invocation of Islam have been used both to vindicate and protect women's rights in some places and times, and to violate and restrict them in other places and times - as in the present case. The same can be said of many, many other religions and discourses (for example, Christianity, capitalism, socialism, modernization to name but a few). The point is for us to question who is invoking Islam (or whatever belief/discourse) for what purposes, and also to acknowledge and support internal dissent within the community involved, rather than engaging in a wholesale condemnation of peoples' beliefs and cultures, which is seldom accurate or effective in changing views within the affected community. Please be sensitive to these concerns in any protest letters you may write.


  • PoliGov: American Fundamentalism
    martydee (Blog) martydee.com

    I am an American Fundamentalist and believe deeply in the core values of the Founders.

  • Moderate Muslims fear fundamentalist backlash from war
    Dan Murphy (March 18, 2003) Christian Science Monitor

    But from Pakistan to Indonesia, Islamic reformers who are allies of pluralism and moderation are watching the kmassing of US troops in the Gulf with something approaching panic. They expect an Iraq war to galvanize Muslim populations - but not in the way the US hopes. They fear that in the slipstream of invasion will be a surge of global Muslim anger that will play into the hands of fundamentalist politicians and curtail reformers' influence.

  • Should God Bless America or Judge Her?
    Catholickid666 (March 4, 2003) Web-Ministry

    God said, any Nation that refuse to walk in My Statutes My Laws, I will destroy that Nation, the withholding of His Hand of Protection! America needs to take the beam, out of It's own eye, before we Judge another Nation! We can see the evilness of Saddam Hussein, who has murdered millions of his own people. We need to take a good look at America, and the people therein, who have murdered far more, then evil Hussein. the sad part, the most helpless of all mankind, The unborn baby! Will God Bless America, in another War, or will Judgment come upon America!(11Peter-2-15-22) Can we not hear God's Warning to such a Nation, as America has become? God will Judge America, more sever then a Heathen Nation, as Iraq, for it would have been better for America, to have never known, then to have known and turned away from the Holy Commandments of God!...

  • Non-Fundamentalist Christianity
    Warren Hamby (Blog) Suite 101

    I donít know. Has anybody asked God what He would have us do? Has anybody ever considered the possibility that God might want us to do simply nothing, and wait? It wouldnít be the first time He has asked His people to do that.

  • Sri Lanka - Escalating Buddhist Nationalism
    Elizabeth Kendal (Oct. 2002?) John Mark Ministries

    In recent years, Sri Lanka has seen the rise of an increasingly aggressive Buddhist nationalism, complete with disinformation, discrimination and violent persecution. The movement gained considerable momentum during 2001, especially after Prime Minister Ratnasiri Wickremanayake suggested there was a conspiracy against Buddhism in Sri Lanka, and urged young men to enter the priesthood in order to protect the religion. He claimed that Buddhism was under threat, even though more than seventy percent of the population is Buddhist (with Hindu, Muslim and Christian minorities).

  • CONSERVATIVE CHRISTIANS IN U.S. BIGGEST BACKERS OF WAR ON IRAQ
    Jim Lobe (October 2002) Third World Network

    A new survey shows that of the major religious groups in the United States, evangelical Christians are the biggest backers of Israel and Washington's planned war against Iraq. Almost two-thirds of the above religious group also say that they support Israeli actions towards 'Palestinian terrorism'.

  • Review of Tariq Ali: The Clash of Fundamentalisms: Crusades, Jihads, and Modernity
    John Brady (Aug. 25, 2002) Bad Subjects

    When we collapse the distinction between a secular ideology/policy like imperialism and a religious ideology/program like Islamic fundamentalism we miss dimensions of the current situation such as these. But beyond the manner in which it hobbles our political analyis, it is also morally suspect to frame the current world political situation as a clash of fundamentalisms insofar as it suggests a moral equivalence between the two systems. In Ali's eyes, both Islamic fundamentalism and America's imperialist democracy are equally corrupt. As a theme, the corruption of Islam runs throughout the book, and is illustrated by Ali through references and stories of the murderous actions of fundamentalist leaders, the suppression of the secular, cosmopolitan elements of the Islamic tradition (the fascinating subject of the book's wonderful opening chapters), and the blinkered, intolerant worldview of fundamentalist Islam's adherents. The case for American corruption is made more indirectly, hinted at by Ali through imperial metaphors and turns of phrase....

  • Afghanistan's 25-Year Tragedy: A Conversation with Tahmeena Faryal
    Taheema Faryal (Dec. 3, 2001) Against the Current

    From the very beginning RAWA opposed the PDPA as a puppet party, one that actually betrayed some of the words like democracy, the rights of women, freedom. Today we have problems because of what they did in the name of those words, the same as what the fundamentalists did under the name of Islam....

    Well, basically the people who are now in the Northern Alliance are those we call fundamentalists that were created and supported during the Cold War by many countries including the United States. Most of the people and most of the fighters in the Northern Alliance are with them because of the money. Obviously they have their main leaders and commanders who were the ones supported during the Cold War and have the fundamentalist mentality. Not all of the 15,000 soldiers are of that background.


  • MOROS/PHILIPPINES CONFLICT PROFILE
    John Gershman (Oct. 16, 2001) FPIF

    The main declared objective of the Abu Sayyaf is to establish an Islamic state based on Islamic law (shariah) in the southern Philippines. It has issued no definitive policy statements and has not demonstrated any significant political support. It engages in a range of violent acts including bombings and kidnappings, most recently in early 2001. The MNLF and MILF as well as other Moro political figures have denounced the activities of the Abu Sayyaf. Since May 2001, the Arroyo administration has been engaged in a military assault on Abu Sayyaf positions in Basilan. Human rights advocates have criticized human rights abuses by the military during their operations.

  • Born Again on September 11: Americaís Christian Jihad
    (@2001) Education Revolt@GeoBop

    At least, thatís how things looked to casual observers. The more observant might ask a simple question: Has right-wing Christianity really become mainstream, or did Christian fundamentalism get a little push from the government and media? In fact, it got a giant shove when President George W. Bush created a new faith-based bureaucracy, and it got another one when the POTUS designated Friday, September 14, 2001, a National Day of Prayer and Remembrance for the victims of the terrorist attacks. Prayer vigils were held across the nation at noon, as a grieving nation found solace in its newfound unity.

  • Religious Fundamentalisms and Global Conflict
    R. Scott Appleby (Oct. 5, 2001) Foreign Policy Association

    FPA: If I could just follow up on that, and even go back to something we had touched on a little earlier. When you say that religious zeal could be part of the answer, what exactly do you mean?

    SA: Well, I mean religious zeal in a sense of people who are willing to take bold steps, courageous steps and in some cases risk their lives and livelihood to promote a peaceful version and a non-violent version of Christianity, or Islam or Judaism. Those folks are also acting from deep religious commitments. They are religious scholars, they are priests, they are rabbis, they are lay people in these various traditions who say this is not Islam, this is not Christianity, this is not Buddhism, this is not Judaism. That is, the 'this' being violent expressions of them or punitive or extremist expressions. That requires zeal, that requires faith that requires courage. No less than it requires courage to fly your plane into the World Trade Center. These different kinds of courage and expression are nurtured by spiritual practices, by prayer, by prayers to the same God. We would believe that God is really supportive of those who want peace over war and refuse to do violence, but we'll learn more fully, those kinds of questions later. What we know now is that people who are in the dynamic of religion, that is, who have given their lives over to God in sincerity, may or may not interpret God's will correctly, but they are giving themselves to a kind of self-sacrificial zealotry which can work both for peace and for violence.


  • RAWA Message to 'Afghan Solidarity'
    Statement (July 14, 2001) RAWA

    RAWA [Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan], with the banner of its martyred leader in its hands, is the vanguard of anti-fundamentalism, and the standard-bearer of freedom, democracy and women's rights in Afghanistan. RAWA, although subject to a flood of base accusations by agents of the fundamentalists, will under the worst conditions remains the voice of voiceless and deprived women and men, fearless of difficulties and ready for sacrifices.

  • Hindu Extremism on the Rise in India
    Conservative News Service (Feb. 14, 2000) Hindu Fundamentalism Index

    Hindu fundamentalist groups in India are trying to curb the activities of other religious groups and control the "expressions" of those not conforming to their world view, according to analysts here. As examples, analysts point to Hindu attempts to change the Indian constitution in ways that would curb artistic free expression and restrict the right of minority Christians and Muslims to preach and practice their religion freely.

  • A Fundamentalist Nation?
    Gregory Koukl (@1999) Stand to Reason

    A recent poll of readers of the LA Times showed that, in the area of abortion, prayer, in school, homosexuality and traditional family values, the majority of Americans agree with extreme fundamentalists. 70% of Americans believe that the traditional family structure is always best; 76% favor prayer in public schools; 55% are against legalized abortion; 61% think that homosexual relations are always wrong. These are the views of the "radical right," and these are also the views of a majority of rank and file Americans.

  • HINDU FUNDAMENTALISM: DOES IT REALLY EXIST?
    Dr. David Frawley (undated) Applied Hinduism

    Fundamentalist groups insist upon belief in the literal truth of one book as the Word of God, which they base their behavior on. Muslim fundamentalists insist that the Koran is the Word of God and that all necessary knowledge is contained in it. Christian fundamentalists say the same thing of the Bible. Again even orthodox or ordinary Muslims and Christians, not only fundamentalists, may believe this to some degree. Hindus have many holy books like the Vedas, Agamas, Gita, Ramayana and so on, which contain a great variety of teachings and many different points of view and no one of these books is required reading for all Hindus. Hindus generally respect the holy books of other religions as well. What single holy book do Hindu fundamentalists hold literally to be the word of God, which they base their behavior upon? Christian and Islamic fundamentalists flout their holy book and are ever quoting from it to justify their actions and their beliefs. What Hindu Bible are the Hindu fundamentalists all carrying, quoting and preaching from and find justification in?

  • Response to Sam Hill, "Fundamentalism in Recent Southern Culture"
    Betty A. DeBerg (1998) Journal of Southern Religion

    I want to raise several issues about these general conclusions. First, I think that race, the exclusion of African Americans from Southern culture, is still a very central and continuous part of the story. Although we still need a lot more research on what, for lack of a better term, we might call black fundamentalism, and the participation of African Americans in the contemporary Religious Right, my sense it that the current wave of politically active fundamentalism essentially excludes African Americans in all parts of the country. It is by and large a movement of white reaction, ready to use and respond to Willie-Horton kinds of appeals, and to oppose affirmative action at all levels. In my view, white reaction against the civil rights movement is not limited to the South, and to the extent that both Northern and Southern whites participate in these reactionary religious and social movements and groups, it is a case of the North becoming more like the South than it is the South losing its regional identity.

  • Ch. 25: Problem having its Roots in Religious Fanaticism
    Narender Sehgal (1992) Memorial of Mistakes: Converted Kashmir

    The growth of fundamentalism in Kashmir cannot be understood only by standing on the political plank of Kashmir. In order to understand it, it is necessary to understand the one type of Muslim bent of mind in the world. Kashmir's religious fanaticism is a part of that international religious fanaticism the political goal of which is to convert the entire world into "Darul Islam" for the purpose of establishing Islamic rule (Nizame Mustaffa). This very goal does not allow Muslims to get linked with the soil af any country. The terrorists and separatist Peoples' League supremo, Shabir Shah has explained the aim of terrorism in Kashmir through a poster.

  • The Emergence of Jewish Fundamentalism in Historical Perspective
    Ian S.Lustick (1988) Council on Foreign Relations

    To explain the rise of Jewish fundamentalism in contemporary Israel, we must identify the general conditions likely to be propitious for any fundamentalist movement and then show that they were present in Israel. First, behavior of a regime or of dominant elites or groups must be able to be convincingly portrayed as contradicting their own legitimizing myths. Second, discrepancies between the distinctive myths preserved by the fundamentalist elite and those associated with the prevailing political and social order must be dramatized. Third, mobilizable sectors of the population must be available and be led to interpret events as existential threats to their perceptions of the worthiness of their society, their own self-worth, and the capacity of the society to provide for their basic human needs. Under such conditions the particular comparative advantage that religious elites enjoy vis-a-vis others becomes politically important. That advantage is their authoritative access to symbols bearing on transcendental or cosmic concerns-reassuring symbols of ultimate purpose and meaning that resonate with an undeniable authenticity for the community, symbols that must ultimately be used to justify the exercise of state power.




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