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Controversial New Religions$
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James R. Lewis and Jesper Aagaard Petersen

Print publication date: 2004

Print ISBN-13: 9780195156829

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2006

DOI: 10.1093/019515682X.001.0001

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Aum Shinrikyo and the Aum Incident

Aum Shinrikyo and the Aum Incident

A Critical Introduction

(p.153) 8 Aum Shinrikyo and the Aum Incident
Controversial New Religions

Martin Repp

Oxford University Press

This essay presents a systematic overview of Aum Shinrikyo, its historical development, and the significant body of scholarship that has been carried out on the movement. The analyses of Aum Shinrikyo, now called Aleph, must come to grips with explaining the 1995 poison gas attack on the Tokyo subway system; this and other criminal acts became known as the Aum incident. The discussion is built around the question: How did a group that began life as a peaceful yoga group transform into an apocalyptic doomsday religion, capable of acts of terrorism? It is argued that the Aum incident is too complex to be grasped sufficiently by monocausal explanations, and it is the complex interaction of various factors that made it happen as it did.

Keywords:   Aum Shinrikyo, Tokyo, subway, Aum incident, terrorism

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