Thursday, June 6, 2013

What Causes Terrorism: Religion or Social & Political Conditions


Two horrific tragedies--the Boston Marathon bombings and the Woolrich, UK attack and murder--and two very different interpretations.

Former English Prime Minister, Tony Blair, believes that the two tragedies represent a problem within Islam. "There is not a problem with Islam," Blair writes in a article for the Daily Mail," "...But there is a problem within Islam--from the adherents of an ideology that is a strain within Islam."

John Esposito, a professor of international affairs and Islamic Studies at Georgetown University, disagrees with this interpretation.  He does not doubt Blair's sincerity or  intentions, but argues that political and social conditions foster terrorism, not religion.

In a recent article in the Washington Post, Esposito suggests that Blair's interpretation "perpetuates his long held belief since the Bush-Blair invasion and occupation of Iraq that the primary driver, the root cause of terrorism, is religion and not political and social  contexts and foreign policies."  Esposito even calls the interpretation "..wrong-headed and doomed to continue to be part of the problem and not the solution."

School is all but over so a discussion about the merits of the two arguments will have to wait until next year.  But it is an interesting argument, not just for a religion class but also for a world history class.

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