Anastasia V. Mitrofanova

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Diplomatic Academy of Russia, Moscow


Religious Aspects of International Terrorism

The paper discusses interconnections between terrorism and religion. In its first part, a working definition of terrorism is given, differentiating it from the other types of political violence. The second part is focused on religiously motivated terrorism. The paper questions some popular opinions, such as anti-modernity of religious violence; specific proneness of Muslims to terrorism; incompatibility of religion and terrorism. The article states that terrorists are sincerely motivated by religion and not simply using religion to conceal their selfish ends. This part also dwells on specific rationality of religious terrorism. The third part deals with terrorism of millenarian religious groups, such as Aum Shinrikyo, “Order of the Solar Temple”, and others. The paper concludes that terrorist activities of such groups are driven by their theology dating back to Gnosticism.