Understanding Terrorism and Extremism

1024 Words5 Pages
In the year 2008, in an interview with Dan Rivers from CNN, Imam Samudra, the main actor of the 2002 Bali bombing in Indonesia, said that he would never apologize to the non-Muslim victims of the tragedy. His reason was that his religion, Islam, based on his interpretation and understanding, allows him to kill the infidels (CNN, 2008; Rivers, 2008). Moreover, Imam Samudra considered his actions as jihad in the meaning of an “obligation to fight a limited war” (Hassan, 2007). In the same interview, Amrozi, Imam Samudra’s fellow terrorist, was showing a happy face and saying "Alhamdulillâh", in the sense of "thank God", when Rivers showed pictures of the victims and some of other images according to his terror act in Bali (CNN, 2008). By using Kaplan and Weinberg’s approach to extremism (1998), Samudra and Amrozi’s way of thinking obviously shown that they are extremists, especially in terms of their antagonism with other groups based on their own moral legitimacy. But, by the same token, they are clearly convicted as terrorists. How the terms extremism and terrorism are actually relate? This short piece would try to answer the question by discussing the proportion that while all terrorists are extremists, not all extremists are terrorists. Besides providing clear definitions about those terms, this essay will also try to explain and assess the definitions by arguments and examples. The terms or behaviors of extremism and terrorism may share some similarities, but, in fact, they have subtle differences. Perhaps, it is more likely understandable that all terrorists are extremists, but the question that might be raised is: Does employing an extreme religious, political, or ideological view necessarily entail terrorism? Some scholars may argue that the terms extremism and terrorism are difficult to be defined (Juergensmeyer, 2003). However, by borrowing Pressman & Flockton (2014) point of view about the terms, it is more likely acceptable that while extremism does not require violent actions, terrorism always requires violence to achieve some political goals (p. 123). According to Kaplan and Weinberg (1998) extremism is a perspective that define the reality just into two oppositional categories, black and white, right and wrong, good and evil. They said that, “[it is] an outlook…that is built around monism and moralism that rejects ambiguity" (p. 11). It means that extremists’ point of view to these categories is strict and has no compromise. Furthermore, they put their selves on the “good” side while they are pointing out the others as “wrong” or “evil”.
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