p.p1 surrounding these violent interpretations. Terrorism is not selective,

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Religion allow extremists to find a way to legitimise their acts of terror. As terrorism is a natural supporter of violence, it captures features of religion and misleading those devout followers. 

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These ‘followers’ believe that violence, for instance, is an expression of worship.  Therefore, no guilt for the murder; however they believe their actions are ‘legitimate’ and sacred (Sedgwick, 2004; p. 795-841). Compared with the other types of terrorism, their “enemy” is broader and numerous. This fact doomed religious-based terrorism are much bloody than the other types of terrorism.

Religion has been the driving force of society for thousands of years. In the world today we have numbers religions, some similar in nature and teachings, others couldn’t be anymore different. Humanity is renowned for rejecting and questioning anything not deemed as normal. Naturally, around the globe the notion of ‘normal’ differs drastically, causing widespread conflict, sometimes manifesting into terrorism. Religious terrorism is complex, there is no single reasoning or rationale to account for it. Unfortunately, this prevents the extent in which terrorist acts can be predicted. In order to understand the conditions under which these violent interpretations of a religion happen, one needs to identify, firstly, who is interpreting the religion and second, the ‘social and political’ circumstances surrounding these violent interpretations. Terrorism is not selective, it does not belong to one race, religion or region. Terrorism is a fabrication of society, our inability to be tolerant and tendency to be ignorant to cultures other than our own. This essay gives an insight to different theoretical approaches explaining the notion of religious terrorism.
Internationally, the issues have to do with terror activities in diverse jurisdictions as well as at unpredicted times of terror. Religious terrorism is based on goals and motivations that have a predominantly religious influence. Religion is viewed as a ‘cultural system’ of set behaviours; in other words different countries have different moral standards, different cultures, different beliefs and world views. Religion could be practiced by rituals, festivals, feasts, prayers; as well as texts (holy scriptures)  or symbols from such as from the Bible or the Quran. Many people believe that religion is a peaceful belief or a sense of support or comfort. To worship or believe in a ‘God’ shows interest followed with great devotion.
There are endless theories that aim to fathom the reasons in which individuals feel the need to carry out acts of terrorism. Naturally, there is wide spread public speculation as to what compels anyone to become a terrorist. One aspect of terrorist lie that criminologists are eager to examine is their childhood/pubescent history. The history of individuals that become violent in adulthood is often a direct reflection of the environment experienced in adolescence. For example,  a child who has grown up witnessing acts of terrorism and violence regularly is more likely to normalise this behaviour and potentially duplicate it in adulthood. Civil-unrest and political instability has been a major factor in the contribution to a rise in terrorist activity. 
Hoffman (2006; p. 81 – 83) argues that many historical and contemporary terrorist organisations have made evident that they have a strong religious aspect to their ideologies and teachings. A recent example of such groups are the IRA, a predominantly catholic group, as well as their protestant equivalents. In this case it is not the difference in religion of each group that is their motive, it is a political / nationalist agenda at play. The motive however of terrorist groups can differ; al-Qaeda for instance has an overwhelmingly religious motive, which is arguably the most distinguishing feature of modern day terrorism. Hoffman believes that there are two different types of terrorists; those who are motivated by a religious imperative, and those who are secular. The difference being; “for a religious terrorist, violence is first and foremost a sacramental act or divine duty executed in direct response to some theological demand or imperative”. Religious terrorists “are unconstrained by the political, moral or practical constraints that may affect other terrorists”. 
Hoffman (2006; p. 84 – 90) describes the unstoppable nature of a religious terrorist, stating that they have no constrains due to violence becoming a sacramental act in the name of God. On the other hand, secular terrorists; “rarely attempt indiscriminate killing on a massive scale” this is due to the fact that such tactics are not consistent with their political aims. As well as killings on a large scale, Hoffman adds that religious terrorists also “seek the elimination or broadly defined categories of enemies”; for example the ‘Western world’. Such large scale violence is both morally justifiable and completely necessary in the eyes of a religious terrorist. Hoffman also notes that terrorist operations are often  ‘blessed’ (approved) by religious leaders, therefore serving as a legitimisation by God to commit acts of terror.
Suicide terrorism in particular does in fact follow a strategic logic; the bombers themselves may be irrational or fanatical, but the organisations and terrorist groups that recruit and train them are not. The motive of the organisations that direct followers to commit suicide bombings are to target a government (for political change), to gain more recruits and for financial support for further terrorist activities. For terrorist groups, suicide bombings are the ultimate weapon in the attempt to coerce on an international scale. Pape (2005; p 344) found that there is rationalised thinking when examining the logic of suicide terrorism; firstly that it is strategic, and often occurs in clusters of attacks in aim to achieve political goals. This has been proven as groups have been known to stop attacks if their goals are negotiated or somewhat met. Secondly, suicide terrorism has been used to regain ‘national self-determination’; most often to achieve the withdrawal of the military forces of the nation they are threatening and establish control of their homeland. Lastly, suicide terrorism is on the rise because in the past it has paid off, and groups have made more political gains when resorting to suicide terrorism.

Juergensmeyer (2003) questions the importance of both religion and politics, examining which one takes precedence over the other. Religion plays different roles in different societies ; being intertwined in the ideology of government and public order in some countries more than others. Juergensmeyer (2003) discusses how religion and violence have a symbiotic relationship, meaning that they entirely rely on one another for their own survival. On the contrary, he argues that religion should be considered ‘one incidental factor’, in other words religion is not solely to blame for terrorism. Although religion is not particularly innocent; it does not ordinarily lead to violence. According to Juergensmeyer (2003), violence only transpires when three main factors become involved; social, ideological and political. When coupled with religion, these three sets of circumstances manifest themselves as violent ways of expressing social aspirations, personal pride and movements for political change. Juergensmeyer believes that ‘public acts of violence at the turn of the century for which religion has provided motivation, the justification, the organisation, and the world war’ (2003; p.7). One similarity Juergensmeyer identifies amongst terrorists is the perception  that either themselves or their communities are already under attack, and therefore justify their acts of terrorism as merely retaliating to the violence they have already experienced. For example, President Bush’s government  saw retaliation from al-Qaeda after grounding troops in Iraq.
The rise of terrorism and associated fear of muslim extremists have provided new grounds for anti-religious messages from the news atheists. Dawkins however, has been arguing against the precedence of religion in terrorism, even before 9/11. Contrary to the opinions of Hitchens (2003 and Harris (2004), who support the invasion of Iraq and fight against terrorism. Stating that the use of military power and even torture is “not only permissible but necessary” (Harris, 2004; 119). Dawkins (2007) has strongly criticised Bush’s governments’ decisions, asking “if god had told Bush to invade Iraq, why did the all knowing God, not tell Bush that there were in fact no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.”
One of Dawkins’ other main criticisms is the view that science and religion are not conflicting, notably referring to religions that are Abrahamic, dealing in scientific matters, stating that “it is completely unrealistic to claim, as Gould and many other so, that religions keeps itself away from science’s turf, restricting itself to the morals and values”. “Religions make existence claims, and this means scientific claims”. According to Dawkins, religion and its teachings (moderate or otherwise) are an “open invitation to extremism” due to the fact that religious teachings are ‘supernatural and glorified, and unquestionable’ (Dawkins, 2006; p. 345-346). In other words, rational thinking is halted by religion; as for religious believers, the teachings of religion triumph over any alternative viewpoint. This is in turn opens up getaways to extremists making  people look forwards to becoming a martyr by dying in the name of God and executing what they think is “Gods will”, as heaven is promised by god to be waiting in the afterlife for anyone that does so. Dawkins believes that religion itself is to blame for extremism and that faith itself supplies people with the mechanisms and thought processes that eventually manifest and turn into terrorism.  The fact that religion is often shared and talked to children, in Dawkins eyes is a major component to how children are exposed to violence and extremism. Thus, creating a vicious cycle in which religion is continually fabricating people into terrorists (Dawkins, 2006; 346-348). 
The media’s coverage of horrific and unfortunate events, sparks moral panic throughout society. Jewkes (2015) mentions that news stations value violence and conflict, children being involved, any visual imagery would make anything newsworthy. As terrorism is such an issue; ISIS for example, is known for killing dozens of people at a time, as well as carrying out public executions, crucifixion, releasing beheading videos, etc. That in itself states that, that Islamic groups use modern tools and technology, like social media, to promote political agendas and religious fundamentals. The more severe damage, the bigger the reporting, the more attention is focussed back on them; extremist groups also use modern tools to promote recruitment and beliefs for their groups. Nacos (2007; p.46) also agrees that the media is a major contribution to promoting terror groups by reporting the horrific events. Those who share the same or similar beliefs could be influenced by the reporting of terror acts. The shift in terminology used by the public somewhat characterised terrorism. Statements such as ‘war on terror’ and ‘a global struggle against extremism’ imply that all terrorist are extremists, however it is evident that not all extremists are terrorists.

Poole (2003) mentioned that the war in Iraq had a clear and significant impact on the British press; this also had a notable effect on the percentage of articles regarding Muslims (Poole, 2006; p.91). The war in Iraq was just one primary example, however 9/11 is another very substantial and newsworthy tragic event that occurred in September of 2001. Increased coverage suggests that an issue has some noticeable and significant interests of powerful groups in a certain social context. Terrorist organisations’ use of media, in the means of terrorism, is outlined through main influxes which is spreading fear and recognition of its motives and gaining attention. Hoffman (2006; p 174) states, “only by spreading the terror and outrage to a much larger audience can the terrorists gain the maximum potential leverage that they need to effect fundamental political change”.
In conclusion, there are many theories that aim to explain the notion of religious terrorism. Religion is used in the means of; constructing social justice or  expiate ‘sins’. However, it can also be used to manipulate individuals into participating in terrorist activities to obey beliefs. I argue that religious violence happens as a consequence of the deformation in the relationship between religion, morality and politics. However I also strongly believe that the media plays a major role in encouraging and advertising extreme beliefs  by excessive reporting. Juergensmeyer was right to define religious terrorism as ‘consisting acts that terrify’, as extremist groups aim to gain recognition and individuals strive to become a martyr in the name of religion. Dawkins concludes that religion is a tie to terrorism, however it is not always the not soul source of wars. 
Contrary, to popular belief, terrorists seek to change society in one way or the other; from freedom of speech and religious expression to physical and political control. The wide spectrum or different theories and definitions of terrorism, as well as it’s causes, is due to the differences in the groups and individuals that commit terror activities; therefore sparking debate as to why such different people with equally different agendas are committing similar atrocities worldwide. Terrorism feeds on society and uses both the media and institutions to spread its’ propaganda and ideologies. many believe that the terror attacks of 9/11 changed society forever. However I argue that this hands terrorists the power they desire, thus fostering more terrorism. The strength of society should instead be measured by how resilient it is, and by how little terrorism changes daily life.