Was the Northern Ireland Conflict Religious?
This article considers the claim that the conflict in Northern Ireland was irreducibly religious. After a brief account of the history of the Northern Ireland conflict, the different arguments and counter arguments that bear on the role of religion in causing and sustaining the conflict are considered. An examination of the relationship of Islam to terrorism and the events of 9/11 provides a comparative perspective that is used both to identify similarities and differences between the situation in Ireland and elsewhere and to distinguish and discriminate between different ways in which religious sanction is given to violence. The implications of our findings are then explored with regard to our understanding of the Northern Ireland conflict and with regard to our understanding of the nature of religion more generally.
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