This small post serves as an addendum to my previous posts on religion. Yesterday a group of prominent world figures met in Istanbul to discuss tensions between Muslims and Western Societies. The group, The Alliance of Civilizations, including Desmond Tutu and Mohammed Khatami, concluded that:
The chief causes of the rift are not religion or history, they say, but recent political developments, notably the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
The group issued a report that details the problems leading to the growing divide between the West and Muslims, in which they reject the notion that a clash of civilizations is inevitable. I suppose these findings will provide much food for thought and even more fodder for debate, but the report is truly interesting, if only as a sign of the times. The report (pdf) can be downloaded right here. One quote:
3.8 The exploitation of religion by ideologues intent on swaying people to their causes has led to the misguided perception that religion itself is a root cause of intercultural conflict. It is therefore essential to dispel misapprehensions and to give an objective and formal appraisal of the role of religion in modern day politics. Indeed, a symbiotic relationship may be emerging between religion and politics in our time, each influencing the other. As an example from the past, the seemingly secular colonial enterprise of the ‘civilizing mission’ or the nineteenth century conviction of ‘manifest destiny’ in reality has deep religious roots. Conversely, the overtly religious platforms of some contemporary movements conceal political ambitions that appropriate religion for ideological ends.