Religious conflicts in cyberage

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Abstract

The rise of the Internet has a profound impact on the way conflicts are carried out and the faithful practice their religions. This article explores new dimensions of religious conflicts by theoretically reflecting on new developments in cyberage and by substantiating this with an empirical case study - the Moluccan conflict (Eastern Indonesia). Due to the exponential growth of Internet access worldwide, religions and their followers are increasingly expanding into the online world as a new "marketplace" for religious symbols and identities that fosters religious transnationalism. At the same time conflict actors worldwide have been making increasing use of the Internet to expand their networks, plan actions and fight their enemies. While scholars have so far primarily focused on more globalized online terrorism, this paper analyses a conflict that has mainly been fought out between Christians and Muslims in a remote part of this world, but then expanded into cyberspace. Local conflict actors have used the Internet as a global stage for their cause, to connect to and seek support from their transnational religious communities, but also to manipulate the outside world's perception of the Moluccan conflict. Researching the online projects and identity politics of these actors and their offline contexts, it becomes clear that the Internet has helped to essentialize (religious) identities and to influence the conflict at the local level through the networking and mobilization of people worldwide.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)329-347
Number of pages19
JournalCitizenship Studies
Volume11
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2007
Externally publishedYes

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