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Fundamentalism is the strict adherence to what is claimed to be the original vision or core principles of a religion. Fundamentalism typically emerges as a powerful political movement because indviduals respond to wrenching social change by seeking certainties in religion that they cannot find in the material world.

  • Islamic fundamentalism, among both the Sunni and Shi'a, is largely the result of massive rural to urban migration and the political repression of alternative popular leftist political movements. The governments of Egypt, Iran, Pakistan and Turkey all failed to provide adequate levels of social services to their swelling populations of recent migrants from the countryside.
  • Hindu fundamentlaism in India is the product of anger among northern Hindi speaking, upper caste Hindus in the "Cow Belt" about "affirmative action" gains in the form of employment and educational reservations by lower caste, Dalits and Muslims.

Fundamentalism fuels fundamentalism, and the best way for radicals to sideline moderates and become mainstream is to feed on radical archrivals. Islamist fundamentalists needed a surge of Christian fundamentalism to crush their main targets, moderate muslims, the same way as George W. Bush used "islamo-fascism" to help Christian fundamentalism spreading across the USA.

Fundamentalism sometimes feeds on itself. Christian fundamentalists proseletize and preach energetically because they genuinely believe that the "unsaved" are at risk of Hell. Fundamentalists of other religions are likely to use whatever supernatural benefits they believe come from their fundamentalism to keep the faithful on their side and to attract converts.


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