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India: US group says RSS is like al-Qaeda - Express India

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  • Zafar Khan
    US group says RSS is like al-Qaeda Press Trust of India Posted online: Wednesday, August 10, 2005 at 1044 hours IST Updated: Wednesday, August 10, 2005 at 1247
    Message 1 of 1 , Aug 10, 2005
      US group says RSS is like al-Qaeda
      Press Trust of India
      Posted online: Wednesday, August 10, 2005 at 1044
      hours IST
      Updated: Wednesday, August 10, 2005 at 1247 hours IST


      Washington, August 10: A US-based think tank has
      clubbed the RSS with al-Qaeda and some other groups as
      examples of 'new religious movements'.

      "NRMs (New Religious Movements) can be found in
      Hinduism-- the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh or RSS,
      Israel (Gush Emunim), Christianity (the US-based
      identity movement) and Islam, including al-Qaeda, a
      global network with a transcendent vision that draws
      support in the defence of Islam," a new Rand study

      "Sometimes referred to as cults, NRMs have two
      defining characteristics -- a high degree of tension
      between the group and its surrounding society and a
      high degree of control exercised by leaders over their
      members," the study said.

      "While most are not violent, a few have engaged in
      ritualised acts of mass suicide and homicide. Notable
      examples include Heaven's Gate, the branch Davidians
      and Aum Shinrikyo."

      The Rand study suggested that al-Qaeda cannot be
      defeated by force, but only by reaching out to its
      roots in religion and promoting convergence of
      Christianity and Islam.

      Among possible conditions under which NRMs resort to
      violence, said Rand, two stand out -- if the group or
      movement feels threatened from the outside, by society
      or the government and if it has young, inexperienced
      leaders that resort to violence when threatened either
      from inside or outside the movement.

      Therefore, a government's policies with regard to an
      NRM, if perceived as threatening, could prompt the
      group to resort to violence, it said.

      This new approach suggesting the need to defeat
      al-Qaeda by means other than violence is suggested by
      Rand in an analysis it conducted on contract for
      Secretary of Defence Donald Rumsfeld, the Joint Staff,
      the Unified Commands, the defence agencies, the
      Department of the Navy, the US intelligence community,
      allied governments and foundations.

      "No major religion," said Rand, "has been, or is
      today, a stranger to violence from its extremists, and
      that violence will pose challenges for US foreign
      policy and for the analysts who seek to inform that

      New religious movements or NRMs have also emerged as
      sources of violence, it said. "Yet Islamic extremists
      are now in a class by themselves as a threat to the
      United States, as a transnational, non-state movement
      with the chance to appeal to a billion and a half

      Mark Juergensmeyer's concept of "cosmic war," said
      Rand, provides a useful conceptual framework for
      examining the larger-than-life confrontations that
      religious extremists are engaged in today. This
      concept refers to the metaphysical battle between the
      forces of good and evil that enlivens the religious
      imagination and compels violent action.

      Acts of terror in a cosmic war, said Rand, are seen as
      evocations of a larger spiritual confrontation between
      good and evil. "In the Middle East and other parts of
      the Muslim world where the battle for the soul of
      Islam continues, Islamists and al-Qaeda’s networks
      have placed their struggle against secularism,
      perceived western domination, and the United States,
      in a cosmic context."

      States have tended to approach religious Opposition
      tactically rather than strategically, Rand said.
      "Countries such as Saudi Arabia and Pakistan have
      focused on short-term political gains using the most
      expedient tools available to counter religious
      opposition -- from concessions on social issues to
      crackdowns on political opposition."

      The history of changing and short-sighted state
      policies toward religious opposition suggests these
      approaches are not sustainable in the long term, it

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