It is best to use the word ‘fanatics’ with some caution. Originally this word had a religious significance since it was linked to the word ‘temple’. Now in everyday speech it is a word used to describe someone with excessive enthusiasm such as a football fan, a collector of antiques or a scientist hunting for rare plants. Many of the saints beatified by the Roman Catholic Church for centuries might be thought as fanatical in their inspiration and devotion. Another meaning of fanatic relates to attitudes and behaviour which may be difficult to tolerate because they seem so unconventional or unreasonable. The religious fundamentalists mentioned in the last chapter are frequently termed fanatics although this may lead to some confusion. Essentially, the religious fundamentalist is overtaken by an excess of regard for something like a particular belief or ritual or text such as the Bible or the Koran. This could be a commendable position but not so if they are unreasonable in never admitting anything other than their own opinions. They defend the narrowest of views, perhaps their whole way of life, with vehemence. Fanatics feel they have to act or interpret things in their own way. Most of them seek to defend their own beliefs and the absolute rightness of their cause at all costs. Such ingrained intolerance in religious or political beliefs, when they are unable to discern alternatives, can lead to lack of restraint and to the use of violence regardless of the consequences. That is when the religious fundamentalist and the political activist may be termed terrorist, although, of course, not all are so inclined, nor will terrorists readily call themselves fanatics, or fanatics

admit to terrorism. A feature of some fanatics of the extreme variety and in some parts of the world is that they resort to suicide and martyrdom. This chapter will take a close look at this by considering at first fanaticism itself.