Religious extremism is bred into certain societies. If you are raised in an environment which demands that you strictly observe religious rules, you
eventually won't be able to think differently, unless you are reverse-brain-washed. (When I was a kid, I lived in a Communist country. I was
brainwashed into believing that the USSR was the best place on earth. When I was asked to name a wonderful place, you bet your a$$ I answered
"Russia!") If you are taught from the beginning that your religion is "the one", and if you continue to live in a society which believes the same
thing,.. you will most likely believe it until the day you die. Sometimes when your position in the world is threatened (i.e. when someone tells you
that their religion is "the one", and you're wrong,) you can react in an extreme way.
Why does a government create a brain-washed society? So that it is easier to control. So that it is easier to rile them up against enemies.
I was recently reading a book on medieval Muslim science, and in the opening paragraphs it described the formation of the Islamic religion. At first
Muslims believed that education was incredibly important. The point was to discover everything possible about our universe, the creation of Alah.
Supposedly in the Koran it says that the ink of a scholar is more precious than the blood of a Martyr. Well, a lot of the Muslim scholars and
scientists took this seriously, but once they started to question the existance of God, and religion itself, the Muslim priests/authorities (if that
is a proper name for them) put an end to such education. It began to threaten their power over the people. Suddenly education only relevant to Islam
was allowed, and schools were reformed. When religious beliefs were placed above everything else, including education, bad things started to
The reason you have such extremism in Muslim countries is, because their religion states that you CANNOT separate religion and government. They must
be one and the same. This is also (probably, and in my opinion) the reason why some (if not most) Iraqis have a problem with a new government that
would not run according to religious laws.
Now, to address the problem between the two groups; the Sunnis and the Shiites both believe that they are the ones who should be ruling over the
other, because they are the ones to whom power belongs. It has to do with the lineages of Mohammed, and what happened after his death. Here is a good,
short article on the differences:
Sunnis and Shiites
The major split in Islam is that between the majority Sunnis and the minority Shiites. The split goes back to events in the 7th century:
After Mohammed’s death, leadership of the Islamic community passed to Abu Bakr, one of Mohammed’s closest companions. Some in the community felt
that this succession was not legitimate, and that the title of caliph really belonged to Ali. Ali’s claim was supported by the fact that he was
Mohammed’s cousin, his adopted son, his first convert (at the age of nine), and husband of his daughter Fatima. Both sides believe that Mohammed
specifically designated their man: Supporters of Abu became the Sunnis, those of Ali the Shiites.
The reason you don't see such common extremism in the U.S. for instance is, because in the U.S. the government does not force you to practice one
religion over the other. Your education is not based on religious beliefs, and, because the U.S. has had such a dark history when it comes to racism
and slavery, the schools push to teach their students diversity and equality. Hence, even if your mom and dad have kept you in the closet, and taught
you that your religion is the one,...you will eventually step into this diverse world, and will be indoctrinated to believe differently. Or,...at
least you'll be exposed to hundreds of different opinions, cultures, and beliefs, at which point you're free to make up your own mind if it isn't
too late for you.