Emergence of Religious Radicalism and Violent Extremism: Historical Roots and Contemporary Trends in Kenya with a Focus on Al Shabaab

John P. Bwire

Abstract


This work examines the historical roots of religious radicalism and violent extremism and analyses new trends in Kenya. Radicalism and extremism are aspects that are found in all religions. For example, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam have exhibited notorious extreme tendencies through application of Torah, Crusades and Islamic jihadists groups such as al-Qaeda, Al-Shabaab, Boko haram respectively. The 1980-2000 secular bent ideologies of Liberation Tigers of Tamil (Eelam) and Hindus in Sri Lanka, to name but a few, used both religion and politics to forge their grievances. Kenya above all East African Countries seem to have been singled out as the battle field of terrorism activities attributed to Al-Shabaab based in Somalia. This study uses qualitative methodology to describe issues and events through historical analysis. Hypothetically, when adherents of any religion become radicalized and take their beliefs and practices to the very extreme, stretching them beyond the norm or agreeable standards according to scripture and orthodox means, they become dangerous to humanity. This study has suggested measures that can be engaged to tame violent extremism.
Key words: Radicalism, Extremism, Dialogue, Co-existence, Terrorism, Ideologies

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