Topic 1

Security Council Topic 1:
The Rise of Religious Fundamentalism
“For billions of people around the world, faith is an essential foundation of life.
It provides strength in times of difficulty and an important sense of community. The vast
majority of people of faith live in harmony with their neighbors, whatever their creed, but
each religion also harbors a strident minority prepared to assert fundamentalist doctrines
through bigotry and extreme violence.” – United Nations Secretary General, Ban Kimoon1
Religious fundamentalism, according to a study by the Pew Research Center finds that of
198 countries and territories surveyed in 2012, one fifth of those countries faced religious
related terrorism and sectarian violence. 2 On a more grand scale, the study finds that
religious violence across the world has hit a six year high. In recent years religious
fundamentalism has become palpable, as seen in the rise of groups like the Islamic State in
Iraq and Levant (ISIL) and Boko Haram.
After U.S. ended the occupation of Iraq, then President Maliki become essentially paranoid
and tyrannical. With the Shiite military under his control arrested, daily arrest and killing
of Sunni’s suspected of subversion occurred on a daily basis in the street soft Baghdad.
During this time, Al-Qaeda camped in Iraq’s western deserts, having become nearly
eliminated, its most extreme members remained, hoping to regain power. Some members
went to join the civil war in Syria to fight alongside the Sunni rebels. In Syria, they found
an endless opportunity for recruitment and operations and quickly gained power from 2011
to 2012. What was still known as Al-Qaeda subsisted largely on stealing from banks,
gaining oil fields, becoming funds from wealthy Sunni’s. Al-queada expanded back into
Iraq, was able to defeat the Shiite military and released prisoners, causing their numbers to
swell quickly. Malaki’s violent reaction to civil disobedience by moderates, only pushed
them to take up weapons and identify with what became ISIL. Having acquired foreign
weapons and with a strong military leadership, the group remains an imminent threat. ISIL
has displacement of over three million Iraqi civilians, consistently use sexual violence and
enslavement, commit mass murders, and attempts to destabilize Iraq and the region are an
imminent threat to the global community.3 Their objective is to kill anyone who disagrees
with them, control the region to establish an Islamic Emirate, even establishing a caliphate.
They are so intelligent, they have successfully utilized social media to establish themselves
as the only Jihadist movement, attracting people from all over the world to join them.
“The mental structure of fundamentalists is violence in the name of God.” –Pope Francis4
The threat of religious fundamentalism transcends the globe to the African continent where
Islamic fundamentalist group Boko Haram seeks impose their extreme interpretation of
Islam on the North of Nigeria, while threatening the entire region5. Towns in the North of
Nigeria, such as Gombe were once quiet and relatively peaceful mudbrick township’s
presided over by a Muslim emir after the country’s independence, but have recently
become caught up in the Boko Haram’s violent quest. The group’s brutal attack have been
consistent since 2009 and include a suicide attack on a UN building in Abuja in 2011. In
2014 though, the group caught the world’s attention when they kidnapped 276 school girls
aged 16-18. Boko Haram had been active in the region and are vocal against Western
education, particularly for girls. During a physics examination in the town of Chibok, about
a two hour drive from the border with Cameroon, the militants stormed the school. After
engaging in fierce gun battle with security, the group forced the girls from their dormitories
and into the forest – none have been seen since.6 Boko Haram still controls large parts of
the Northeast, causing hundreds of thousands to flee their homes, slaughtering tribesmen,
abducting women and children and killing in large numbers. The group consist largely of
impoverished Northern Islamic students, clerics and unemployed professionals, and subsist
largely on ransom kidnappings, bank robberies and other illegal activities. 7 Considering
their proximity of their attacks to Cameroon, the recent attacks in Chad, and the
displacement of 1.5 million people, the group possess an immediate threat the region. 8
Religious fundamentalism, not only transcends regions but religions. In Myanmar, there is
a Buddhist extremist movement known as 969 that seeks to cleanse any non Buddhist from
the region. They feel particular threated by a minority Muslim group in the North known
as the Rhhingya
The Rohingya have come to be described as one of the worlds most prosecuted minority
groups in the world as a result. 969 leads campaigns to boycott Muslim businesses and use
any excuse to violently attack and kill innocent civilians, thus causing the displacement of
hundreds of thousands of people. The government remains largely complacent due to the
group’s status as “non-citizen”. Attacks against the Rohingya and other minority groups
continue, despite globally recognized leaders such as Aung San Suu Kyi and the Dalai
Lama’s call for change and peace. 9
We must recognize that the global problem with the rise of religious fundamentalism is
facilitated and perpetuated by several factors: Exclusivity in the democratic process, lack
of employment and access to natural resources, sectarian violence, state sponsored
terrorism that move facilitates the recruitment of moderates and the breakdown of the state.
Thus, how does the United Nations Security Council act to prevent the imminent threat to
large numbers of civilians across the globe now, while addressing the environment that
facilitates and perpetuates religious fundamentalism?