Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Completely lacking in legitimacy

But in the early 1990s, the French sociologist Gilles Kepel pointed out in his book The Revenge of God that extremism was once again surging among Muslims, Christians and Jews.

As diverse as their roots may be (and as hostile as they may be to one another), the new fundamentalist movements share a common conviction, according to Kepel: "The modern secular city is now completely lacking in legitimacy." Fundamentalists of every ilk - Muslims, Jews and Christians - aspire to rebuild a religious foundation for the world's godless societies, and impose divine will as the highest law of the land. Fundamentalist Christians, such as the American revivalist movements or Catholic charismatics, harbor dreams of a world that has been restored to the Christian fold. Muslims declare jihad against all evil - manifest, in their eyes, most blatantly in Western "infidels" - and fight to reinstate Islam in those countries where Mohammed's teachings for centuries dictated every aspect of society and the state.

Jewish fundamentalists are striving to reestablish Judaism in the largely secular state of Israel and to expel every last gentile. Citing biblical role models, self-appointed henchmen launch crusades against everything deemed an enemy of the Jewish state.

Yigal Amir, who assassinated former Israeli premier Yitzhak Rabin, claimed that he had not committed a murder but carried out an execution. "Congratulations on the happy occasion," a sympathetic student mocked on the Internet after Rabin's death. "The evil sorcerer is dead."

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