Right now across the Middle East and Africa, radical Islam is unleashing terror in places like Nigeria, Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq. ISIS and groups that have sworn allegiance to it have overshadowed Al-Qaeda, an organization that sees ISIS as being too radical for them.
In Nigeria and other parts of West Africa, Boko Harem and other splinter groups have launched numerous terrorist attacks in the name of radical Islam. ISIS still holds swathes of land in Syria and Iraq, despite the efforts to dislodge them. They’ve even managed to create a small toehold in Afghanistan, competing with the Taliban which we have been fighting for two decades.
Here in the United States, right-wing politicians condemned President Obama for refusing to use the term “radical Islam” when referring to religious terrorists. Now that Trump is in the White House, he has issued two failed travel bans that targeted immigrants and travelers from Muslim majority countries, in the name of national security.
We have terrorists in our country who claim religion to justify their acts, and they were around long before 9/11. These people belong to groups like the KKK, white nationalists, and other organizations that seek to establish a society that harkens to a time before the Civil War. Prior to 9/11, the greatest terrorist attack on American soil was the Oklahoma City bombing which was carried out by white, anti-government extremists.
After the Civil War, the KKK carried out hundreds of acts of domestic terrorism. They bombed churches, lynched African-Americans, and even burned entire communities to the ground. They did this in the name of white Christianity, and these beliefs continue to this day.
The difference between them and radical Islam is that we have a secular government which is supposed to recognize the separation of church and state. We are a nation of laws, but in the past, white supremacists pretty much had the run of the South with law enforcement agencies often on their side.
In the Middle East, radical Islam is a relatively new phenomenon fueled by Western oil money and resentment towards foreign intervention, and past colonialism. Iran was a secular society until oil interests prompted a coup, and Afghanistan was a struggling democracy until Russia invaded and the CIA backed the muhajideen in their guerilla war against Soviet troops.
As much as the religious right in America loves war in the Middle East and uses Israel as part of their bizarre End Times campaign to bring Jesus back, they have more in common with radical Islam than they do with secular society.
Both believe in patriachy, oppose abortion, oppose the freedom of speech, and support a government ruled by religion. Both radical Islam and radical Christianity reject science, oppose gay rights, and tend to love the death penalty. When you boil it all down, the only main ideological difference is the name they call their god.
The way to combat religious extremism is by having strong, secular societies with education and opportunities for all. Radical Islam in the Middle East and radical Christianity thrive in areas with low income and ignorance where they can exploit young people to carry out their insane ideology. They can be defeated by economics and education, not just more wars or guns.