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Over the centuries, Islamic groups have continued to evolve in character and objectives across the world. Similarly, the membership of these groups have also transformed in a way that mirrors the diversity of their objectives. According to Choueiri (2010), early Islamic fundamentalism was mostly concentrated in the Middle East. The region was widely regarded as the melting pot of fundamentalists and extremists who sought to engage their perceived enemies and rivals through armed conflict. Jansen (1997) observed that the underlying mission for the fundamentalist of the early periods was to galvanize widespread support against perceived historical injustices meted out on their brethren by the west and its allies (Jansen.
Usually, their agenda, according to Choueiri (2010) was concentrated on the need to engage the Zionist state against state for a political settlement of the historical injustices. One of the distinguishing characteristic of these Islamic groups is that they appropriate religious teachings to advance their core values. They tend to adopt militant and religious perspectives on the different matters that pit them against their opponents. In the past decades, the composition of Islamic fundamental groups was mainly that of young men who were disgruntled over real or perceived injustices. On many occasions, they were set up to fight proxy wars against governments and other kinds of adversaries.
In terms of racial demographics, these groups mostly comprised of people of Arab origin with a few Asian communities. Geographically, they were concentrated in the Middle East. Fundamental groups later evolved in terms of demographic to include other racial groups. Jansen (1997) observed that the fundamental groups have transcended racial boundaries to find new expression in places like Africa and the western metropolis that are predominantly Christian. According to Choueiri (2010), the manner in which the groups operate is usually through the portrayal of life in terms of the differences between the Christian values and the Islamic values. Usually, groups tend to shift in their agenda in such a way that shows the shifting in the dynamics of their expression. The inclusion of women into the fundamental groups remains one of the defining characteristics of these groups, which have emerged in the past five decades.
The conflict between Islamic fundamental groups and the west is usually centered on the competition between the Christian culture and the Islamic culture. According to Jansen (1997), the west is usually considered as the home of Christian cultures and values. Both cultures are exclusivist in their approach. In the analysis conducted by Gunderson (2003) the groups are both monotheistic, which means that, their philosophies lack any space that might accommodate the possibility of other deities. This aspect of their cultures creates conflicts that articulate themselves through competing perspectives and open conflict. Jansen (1997) argues that some of the conflicts between the fundamental groups and the west is based on the latter’s perspective that the dominion of the west in Islamic world is an expression of Christian values over the Islamic values.
The fundamental groups adopt antagonistic and hostile perspectives that often degenerate into extremism and terrorism. Gunderson (2003), states that historical conflicts between the western powers and the Arab world have often been interpreted in terms of Christian attack on the Muslim spheres of influence. The consequences have always been that the fundamentalists organize themselves into groups whose main objective is to avenge against the perceived Christian domination on Muslim interests.
The single objective of spreading extremism against western interests in the Arab world and the entire globe unite groups such as Al-Qaida, Hamas, Hezbollah, and Al Shabaab. In the contemporary times, these groups have advanced their policies such that they seek to use their militant methods to acquire political power. They have also developed networks that seek an international kind of brotherhood. In this regard, these groups seek to challenge the west’s control in the political, social, and economic spheres around the world.