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George Rosales
ENG 11000 Freshman Composition
L. Diomande
Expository Essay - Identity
03/08/2015
Religious Orientation and Conflict
Identity is the individual characteristics by which we are recognized by. Some of
these characteristics include, but are not limited to: ethnicity, social class, sexual orientation,
religion, and culture. One of the biggest characteristics of people that they feel strongly best
defines who they are is their religion; they show pride in their religious beliefs and customs.
However, especially in modern society, one religious group would be discriminated against by
another group for political interests. At times, those discriminatory groups want to assert
themselves as the most powerful force in the world. Thus, the case can be made that politics
poorly use religious groups to promote their political interests, which has lead to violence to
occur. Though it is not the only cause of such conflict, it is a big contributing factor.
It is first important to understand the difference between prejudice and
discrimination. The term prejudice means prejudgment; it is an unjustified negative attitude
towards a group and its members. It involves holding emotions and beliefs about said group,
which, in this case, is known as stereotypes. With time, people have increasingly developed
automatic prejudice, where people have negative attitudes about groups unconsciously. This
means that while people may think they arent prejudiced towards others, they do it without
knowing. These feelings about particular groups can lead to discrimination against them.
Discrimination is unjustified negative behavior towards a group and its members.(Myers 572)
There have been many historical instances where prejudice against religious groups have led to
extreme discrimination against them.

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One historical example of this was the Holocaust, when millions of innocent
Jewish people were sent to concentration camps and massacred. In 1933, Jewish people
accounted for over 9,000,000 of the European population. (Introduction to the Holocaust, par.
3) They had been working to support their families during The Great Depression, the economic
depression that plagued the whole world with high unemployment, low profits, and a decline in
trade. They were in locations known as ghettos, enclosed city districts established by the
Germans that had miserable living conditions. They were often forced to perform labor for the
German forces against their will. The Jewish community would sometimes engage in resistance
efforts, which included illegally smuggling food, medicine, weapons, and any intelligence on the
Nazis without them being aware of it.(Ghettos, par. 6)
Nazi leader Adolf Hitler vowed to purify Germany following the poverty and
humiliation suffered following their defeat in World War I. Under the terms of the Versailles
treaty, Germany was to accept full responsibility for World War I, made to pay war reparations to
the allied nations, reduce its military, and give up some of its territory. The question is, what did
those millions of Jews have anything to ruin Germany? The Nazi Party in post-World War I
deemed them as a danger and threat to Germany, because they felt that Germans were the
superior beings and the Jewish population was on the rise in Germany at the time. According to
the US Holocaust Memorial Museums website: The Nazis, who came to power in Germany in
January 1933, believed that Germans were "racially superior" and that the Jews, deemed
"inferior," were an alien threat to the so-called German racial community.(Introduction to the
Holocaust, par. 1) Hitlers ideals would be spread across Nazi Germany through the use of
propaganda. It is important to know that Jewish people were not marked because of their
religion, but because of their culture and how the Nazis viewed their position in society, or antiSemitism. They were sent to concentration camps, where they were executed in the gas

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chambers. Almost 6,000,000 Jewish people were killed during the holocaust out of 12,000,000
total people (Final Solution, par. 8), illustrating how religious groups are poorly used by
politics for their interests.
Another historical example of this would be the September 11th attacks. Following
these attacks, many people were angered by members of the Muslim community, as the group
responsible for the attacks, al-Qaeda, was a pro-Muslim group. This in turn led to the creation of
the stereotype that Muslims are terrorists. However, this is certainly not true; not all Muslims are
bent on trying to terrorize a group of people in the United States or other places in the world.
Following the 9/11 attacks, prejudice against Muslims increased. Surveys showed that following
the attacks, 4 in 10 Americans acknowledged feelings of prejudice towards Muslims. (Myers
574)
The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, commonly known as ISIS, is an Islamic rebel
extremist group that has control over territory in Iraq and Syria. It is important to know that there
are many branches of the Muslim religion (i.e. Shia, Sunni, and many more). ISIS has
established itself as a Caliphate, an Islamic state that elects a leader who is believed to be thre
successor of the Prophet Muhammad. The group originally started out by joining forces with AlQaeda under the command of Abu Musab al-Zarwawi, who attempted to start a sectarian war, a
conflict between sections of an ideology (in this case, a religion) against the Shia community.
(Isis Fast Facts) One of the groups goals was to conquer the Sunni branch of Islam in Syria
because of how the branches of Islam treat each other based on their beliefs. They separated from
al-Qaeda on February 3rd, 2014, and began to carry out terroristic attacks against the world. (Isis
Fast Facts) Many Islamic groups do not consider ISIS to be a part of the Muslim community
because of their ideology and their activites against the world.
The rise of ISIS and their terroristic activities have led to an increase in hate
crimes against Muslims, which led to an increase in hate crimes Jews, especially here in New

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York City. This is due to the recent increase in tensions at the Gaza Strip, which borders Muslim
and Jewish territory. According to an article in the New York Post: In all In all, the five
boroughs have recorded 224 hate crimes so far this year, compared with 192 in the same period
last year[t]hats a 17 percent increase. Those targeting Jews have risen from 64 to 89, for an
increase of 39 percent. Attacks on Muslims have risen from seven to 17, an alarming 145
percent.(Conley, par. 5) Many people have not associated Muslims with terrorism, which is a
hasty generalization of Muslims. However, it has now become a conflict on a global scale, as
Muslims in the Middle East are attempting to spread their influence and power around the world
and people are fighting back against it.
In the modern world, there will always be conflicts on the basis of the identity of
groups and its members. It does not have to be restricted to religion. History has showed us that
it can also be about race, ethnicity, cultural, and sexual orientation. It continues to cause tensions
on a domestic and international level. However, it should not stop us as humans from creating
our own identity. Although we cannot control the thought and feelings of others about specific
groups, it should serve as motivation to be proud of ourselves. Every human being is unique in
their own way. We decide for ourselves what our individual characteristics are, not society.

Works Cited

Conley, Kirstan. "Hate Crimes on the Rise in NYC." The New York Post. N.p., 17 Sept.
2014. Web. 9 Mar. 2015.

""Final Solution": Overview." United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. United States
Holocaust Memorial Council, 20 June 2014. Web. 06 Mar. 2015.

"Ghettos." United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. United States Holocaust


Memorial Council, 20 June 2014. Web. 18 Mar. 2015.

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"Introduction to the Holocaust." United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. United


States Holocaust Memorial Council, 20 June 2014. Web. 9 Mar. 2015.

"ISIS Fast Facts - CNN.com." CNN. Cable News Network, n.d. Web. 11 Feb. 2015.

Myers, David G. "Chapter 14: Social Psychology." Psychology. 10th ed. N.p.: n.p., n.d.
572-74. Print.