Religious intolerance and terrorism

What is the relationship between religious intolerance and the acts committed in Mumbai?” This is an empirical question at many levels. If some or another religion is used to defend the attacks in Mumbai, then it depends very much on the kinds of justifications used; the kind of theology in question; the relationship between the belief-states of the perpetrators and their motives; the relationship between their acts and their religious beliefs; and so on. Religious intolerance might or might not lead to conversion, to persecution of those who have ‘other’ beliefs, to playing the ‘priest’ and so on. What cannot be said, anyway, is that religious intolerance necessarily leads to Mumbai attacks. However, religious intolerance always harbors such a possibility. Whether or not such a possibility also occurs in our world depends on many, many empirical circumstances I have no clear view of.

“What is the nature of moral communities wherein religious intolerance harbors civic intolerance?” Religious intolerance always harbors the possibility of civic intolerance. However, religious intolerance presupposes that there is only one moral community, the community of all human beings. In fact, religious intolerance can exist only if it presupposes that the message of some religion or the other is applicable to all human beings. In the process, it creates a single, undifferentiated moral community. The civic intolerance could express many things too: that one group which believes in the unity of human moral community comes up against a community that preaches differentiated moral communities, leading to a civic intolerance of the latter by the former.

I do not think that it is possible to go straight from either religious or civic intolerance to attacks like those in Mumbai or 9/11. Terrorism is a different kettle of fish.

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