Extremism is a pervasive problem that fuels fundamentalism and generates terrorism as a necessary outcome. Extremism is different from fundamentalism in that a fundamental need not necessarily be extreme, but on the counter, an extreme fundamental fails to be a fundamental since it is no more an ideal fundamental; a basic prerequisite for fundamentals.
Extremism is not only a process of thought; it is also a definitive characteristic that can overtake both thought and action, thereby giving way to militant extremism, and consequently, terrorism. An extremist mindset is bound to be borne out of a perception of arbitrary pressure – of force and oppression – and the most likely outcome of its actions is bound to be a last-ditch resort to extreme ends. The most dangerous thing in today’s world, therefore, is an extremist preacher who can not only practice extremism, but can also preach and train others in extremism, intolerance and professing of hatred. This process can be referred to as the ‘militarization of extremism’, where a cohort of followers is garnered not on fundamentals of a faith, or a religion, or a way of life, but on the extremist interpretation of any of those fundamentals.
But is there a way out of this spiraling abyss? Can those who have been indoctrinated in the message of hate be reclaimed towards the message of tolerance and peaceful coexistence? A 2008 study from RAND Corporation, “How Terrorist Groups End,” concluded that ‘military force has rarely been the primary reason for the end of terrorist groups’.
Does that mean that by killing extremists, we are only fuelling extremism? Does that mean we need to convert extremists to moderation and balance?
Spearhead Research Analysis – 18.05.2010 – with follow-up research items
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