Why Some Resort to Violence

JOSEBA, who lives in Spain, was asked why he became a member of a militant group. “The oppression and injustice we suffered at the time became unbearable,” he said. “In the large city of Bilbao, where I lived, the police would come in, beat up people, and arrest them.”

Joseba continued: “I was arrested one morning for expressing my feelings about such police tactics. I was so angry that I wanted to do something​—something violent if necessary—​to remedy the situation.”

Oppression and Revenge

While not justifying violence, the Bible acknowledges that “oppression may make a wise one act crazy,” that is, in an irrational manner. (Ecclesiastes 7:7) Many become outraged when they are mistreated on the basis of their race, religion, or nationality.

For instance, Hafeni, mentioned in the preceding article, said: “Our land was taken from us by exploitation. Animals fight for their territories, so it seemed natural for us to fight for our land and our rights.” One militant suicide bomber in a statement published after his death said: “Until you stop the bombing, gassing, imprisonment and torture of my people we will not stop this fight.”

Religious Motivations

Though militants are often motivated by secular causes, they frequently engage in violent acts for religious reasons. A world leader received this fax from a militant spokesman: “We are not crazy neither are we in love with power. We are in service of God and that’s why we are strict in our position.”

Concerning religious motivation, Daniel Benjamin and Steven Simon wrote in their book The Age of Sacred Terror: “In a world turning more religious, more adherents of the great faiths and new, burgeoning cults are placing violence at the heart of  their beliefs.” Another researcher, after documenting a number of what he called “spectacular acts of terrorism across the globe,” observed: “All are united in the belief on the part of the perpetrators that their actions were divinely sanctioned, even mandated, by God.”

But many religious militants have extreme viewpoints that do not reflect the traditional teachings and values of the religion with which they are associated.

Etched Into Hearts

Joseba, mentioned earlier, was badly abused when he was arrested. He said: “The brutality convinced me that my hatred was justified. If I had to die to bring changes, it would be worth it.”

Often what is taught in the group adds to the members’ reasons for engaging in violence. “During our time in refugee camps,” said Hafeni, “there were rallies that taught us that the whites were constantly conceiving ways and means to dominate the blacks.” What was the result?

“I could feel my hatred for whites growing,” he added. “I distrusted all of them. Eventually, I couldn’t stand it, and I thought our generation must do something.”

Surprisingly, despite such strong positions, both Joseba and Hafeni changed their entrenched feelings of hatred and distrust. What was it that reached their minds and hearts? The following article will explain.

[Blurb on page 6]

“The brutality convinced me that my hatred was justified. If I had to die to bring changes, it would be worth it.”​—Joseba