Allah and the Armalite: The Origins, Religiosities and Material Conditions of Anti-State Terror-Nationalist Groups in Belfast and Gaza

James Fanning, Providence College


This thesis will examine the histories of nationalism and religion in two conflicts where religion is thought to be a major cause of conflict, Israel-Palestine and the Troubles in Northern Ireland. It will explore the relationship between religion and both Irish and Palestinian nationalism. It will examine the use of religion in the propaganda, actions and organizational culture of Hamas, the “Old” IRA and the Provisional IRA. Additionally, it will examine said groups’ relations with the religious and political traditions that said groups have in order to understand how said groups conform and divert from establishes religious orthodoxy. Lastly, this thesis will survey the material conditions of the populations that both the IRA and Hamas rose from, the Palestinians of Gaza, the West Bank and the Catholics of Northern Ireland. I will challenge the simplistic framing of both of these conflicts as wars driven only by religion or feelings of ethnic and sectarian hatred, rather than complex conflicts driven by poverty, political repression and historical injustices on both sides of each conflict. In summation, the claim that the Troubles and the Israeli Palestinian conflicts are naught but “Holy Wars” will be tested.