The passionate, blind, wilful zeal and admiration towards people, a party, a religion or belief has far reaching negative impacts in any society.
Soccer fanaticism for instance, could be downright dangerous for any given society; people have become involved in all nasty things in the name of fanaticism.
Examples of such dangers are enormous; the enmity that is growing day by day, between Egypt and Algeria is an example.
The two countries severed diplomatic ties over a football match when a row broke out between the fans of the two countries.
Football fans in Rwanda have fought each other too and sometimes try to man handle referees in the name of fanaticism.
They try to enter into football stadiums, without paying the required fee and are normally roughed up by security agents.
“I can’t imagine Rayon Sport playing when I am outside the pitch; I must find a way to enter the stadium. If it means confronting the police, I will, but I must watch the match live,” said one soccer fan when asked why he was insisting to enter the stadium, before paying the set fee.
The recent concluded cycling competition popularly known as ‘Tour du Rwanda,’ exhibited some dangerous manoeuvres from fans who cheered along the roads that indeed exposed them to all forms of dangers.
“Whenever there is such competition young men try to take the most convenient view, which is never available. They instead climb tall trees or high buildings,” said Jean de Dieu Bizumuremyi a businessman in Musha sector of Rwamagana district.
Bizumuremyi also said that, “Three people died last year when the tree they had climbed fell down. This is dangerous.”
Can we end fanaticism?
Sports fanaticism is not necessarily a mental illness. But it can fuel behaviour that can paralyze the mind, mental professionals reveal.
“Whenever my team is playing a game, I am glued to the TV, punching the air when it does well and slapping my hip when it fails. When I lose a game I even cry; I think I care more than the players, it is a kind of madness in me,” Jean Paul Karangwa, a soccer fan in Nyamata town said.
Psychologists have not clearly come out with an explanation on whether the deep rooted affection within sports fanatics has an adverse impact on their behaviour and lifestyle.
“I have seen abusive fans who become violent in front of their own children, and that seems reprehensible to me,” said Stephen Murenzi a psychology teacher at Kigali Institute of Education.
Murenzi further said that people must guard against certain forms of fanaticism or the strong need for competition.
“These transform competitiveness into violence and sometimes leads to unnecessary loss of lives,” he said.
Soccer fanatics are not the only danger to society, religious fanaticism is equally dangerous. In fact, this is the most dangerous form of fanaticism for it affects people’s lives entirely.
Religious fanaticism of any kind is perilous and shouldn’t be given chance in society because it leads to the loss of lives.
When a group of people starts carrying too much pride in their religion, then conflicts blossoms.
Counter criticism always develops among various Christian religious sects and traditional Churches.
“We are sometimes confused by our clergies; they will tell you that the Catholic Church is not doing well and vice versa. This isn’t good because it creates uncertainty among followers,” said Angelique Uwamahoro, 57, a staunch believer in the Catholic living in Ngoma district.
Over the decades, Christians and Moslems too, have always taken sharp disagreement in the Trinity, hence exposing the inherent bigotry amongst them.
However, it is true that the Muslim and Christian views of God have many similarities. Muslims and Christians agree that there is one God who is the Creator of everything in the universe.
Both view God as sovereign, omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent, holy, just, and righteous. This implies that the Christian and Muslim views of God are the same.
However, there are also significant differences between Islam and Christianity’s view of God. While Allah (Allah is the Muslim and Arabic word for God) possesses the attributes of love, mercy, and grace, Allah does not demonstrate these attributes in the same manner, or to the same degree, as the God of Christianity.
The most important difference, though, between the Muslim and Christian view of God is the concept of the Trinity. Christians believe that God has revealed Himself as one God in three Persons: God the Father, the Son of God (Jesus), and the Holy Spirit.
“The belief in the Trinity is essential to the Christian faith. Without the Trinity, there is no incarnation of God in the Person of Jesus Christ. Without Jesus Christ, there is no salvation for sin. Without salvation, sin condemns all to hell. In Islam, Allah is not triune and does not have a son. Therefore, because of this key disagreement with the Christian faith, Muslims are not worshipping the God of Christianity,” Uwamahoro said.
Religious fanaticism at its extremes has led to animosity between Moslems and Christians and lives have been lost.
It should however, be noted that fanaticism is like a psycho-social disease and cannot be easily washed away from the society. The position of fanatics cannot change since with God’s case we don’t appeal.
It is therefore, upon the incumbent leadership, to set in place mechanisms that will keep in check various fanatic reactions.