Pushing Past Terror to Understanding

Three advocates of intercultural dialogue debate religion's role in terrorism and in healing its root causes.

In the wake of the 7/7 London terrorist bombings, Beliefnet Senior Editor Alice Chasan talked with Prof. Akbar Ahmed, Bishop John Bryson Chane, and Prof. Judea Pearl--three leading proponents of interfaith dialogue--about their ideas on countering religiously inflected violence with religiously inspired coexistence.

What 9/11 and 7/7 have in common
Muslim leaders' gesture of solidarity
Why it makes sense to say "Islamic terrorist"
Condemn terrorism in the language of Islam
Islam's internal debate
Does a "clash of civilizations cause terrorism?"
There are moral absolutes
We can't afford to lose the Muslim majority

In the aftermath of the London terror attacks, how should religious leaders and people of faith in general should respond to purveyors of hate in their midst?


Bishop John Chane: The way the city of London responded to the horror of those bombings is in many ways a unique way of responding, which I think the United States was unable to do when it was attacked on 9/11. And the way it was done [in the U.K.] was to very clearly condemn it, but to recognize that we ought not to condemn a religion because of the crime of several people who have used religion in an inappropriate way-using very poor theology to do so. We must recognize this phenomenon as something that is very much a part of our culture in the 21st century. But it does not reflect on the integrity of the religion that those people claim to be empowered by.

Judea Pearl: I don't recall the U.S. condemning a religion. It could be some individuals, like Lt. Gen. Boykin, who made a nasty remark here and there, but I think that President Bush was very careful to distinguish between a war against terrorism and a war against Islam. He may not have been successful in convincing all the people that this is the nature of the war [he was waging], but at least he tried.

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