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Charity as Resistance: Connections Between Charity, Contentious Politics, and Terror

NCJ Number
Studies in Conflict & Terrorism Volume: 29 Issue: 7 Dated: October-November 2006 Pages: 641-655
Shawn Teresa Flanigan
Date Published
October 2006
15 pages
This study examined the connections between charity, contentious politics, political violence, and terrorism.
Two recommendations are offered to reduce political violence and diminish the usefulness of the charitable service provision as a terrorist tool to gain community support: (1) increase equality and access for minority groups, and (2) help governments and organizations provide services and alleviate poverty. The analysis focuses on, first, how charity and terrorism can be conceived of as two activities among a variety of possible actions that address grievances and exclusions and, second, on how terrorist organizations and political insurgents both use charity as a tool to move citizens along a “continuum of community support” toward ever greater acceptance of violence activities. The author illustrates how charity and terrorism are different methods of achieving the same results, which are identified as the establishment of religious and ethno-national identities and the resolution of exclusion and grievances. Philanthropy, then, can be understood as a form of resistance that is intertwined with contentious politics. Terrorist organizations are able to use the social service provision as a tool to gain acceptance among community members. While communities do not necessarily accept the violent activities of terrorist organizations, the help these organizations provide to the community serves to keep individual citizens in a position of passive acceptance. A lack of community support can lead to the demise of a terrorist organization, as was the case of Shining Path in Peru, which did not offer any charitable services to aid the community. On the other hand, Hizballah in Lebanon, which enjoys widespread community support, provides a range of charitable services from television news to health care, school, and orphanages. In some cases it is not unusual for communities to embrace terrorist organizations because of their violent activities, such as is the case with Hizballah in southern Lebanon. References


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