Understanding Religious Identity and the Causes of Religious Violence

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Saira Yamin: Understanding Religious Identity and the Causes of Religious Violence
Peace Prints: South Asian Journal of Peacebuilding, Vol. 1, No. 1: Spring 2008

Understanding Religious Identity and the Causes of Religious Violence Saira Yamin

Abstract The paper examines various scholarly works that explore the causes of religious violence. It addresses questions such as: what elements of religion contribute to violence and protracted conflict; how does religious identity motivate groups engaged in aggressive behavior; other than threat to and preservation of religious identity, what might be significant underlying causes of the conflict; and, what parallels could be drawn with ethnic conflict in the construction of religious
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204-245. Available from http://www.wiscomp.org/peaceprints.htm

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Saira Yamin: Understanding Religious Identity and the Causes of Religious Violence
Peace Prints: South Asian Journal of Peacebuilding, Vol. 1, No. 1: Spring 2008

India. One attempt to estimate the loss of Hindu and Muslim lives at the time of partition places it at two million.3 Most recently, the Global War on Terror (GWOT), spurred by the terrorist attacks on 9/11 and perceived by various quarters as a wider Islamist threat, has been observed as the the most blatant manifestation of the clash of civilizations.

Figure 1 “The Clash of Civilizations” as per Huntington’s thesis (1996) Greater line thickness represents greater conflict in the civilizational relationship

Huntington’s theory has generated immense debate in the developments since 9/11 with the launch of the GWOT, and others incidents that have signalled an escalation of tensions between Islam and the West. Events that point towards the salience of a clash of civilization of sorts, include the recently released Dutch film “Fitna” featuring verses from the Quran out of their context, as evidence of Islam’s hostility towards other religions. A Dutch newspaper’s cartoon caricatures of Prophet Muhammad in 2006 which had offended Muslims around the world, and
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Robert D. Crane, “Postwar Ethnic Cultural Conflicts: Some Quantitative and
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