Another error in the “war on terror”

From the outset, the so-called “war on terror” has proceeded erroneously. The first error was an incorrect diagnosis of the root causes of 9/11. The second error was the response. The third error has been the faulty narrative that has sustained the conflict. Instead of engaging in some real introspection and changing course where necessary, Congressman Peter King’s hearings on the radicalization of Muslims are a doubling-down on a path of errors.

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Inequality, Masculinity & Modernity

In the weeks and months after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, speculation swirled over the attackers’ possible motivations. The pseudo-religious zeal of Mohammed Atta’s final letter to his comrades was only one aspect of it. Attention also centered on the attackers’ possible socioeconomic motivations. Theirs was not a problem of absolute poverty, of course, but of relative poverty. In their new environs, they could never quite fit in culturally—or perhaps religiously, morally, or spiritually—given the marginalization of immigrants that persists in many European countries even among immigrants who aspire to “assimilate.”

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Truth & Reconciliation Amid Sexual Violence

M. CHRISTIAN GREEN

Like many universities around America, Notre Dame recognized Sexual Assault Awareness Week at the end of last month (February 20-27) in a world in which sexual violence against women and girls—and sometimes men and boys—remains a persistent evil. As one of the world’s oldest forms of violence, present throughout the ages, particularly in situations of conflict and war, sexual violence seems distinctly anti-modern from both religious and secular perspectives. How is it that sexual violence remains such a blot on human nature, human society and, particularly, the relationship between men and women?

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Monks in Algeria: Loving Thy Neighbor at Gunpoint

A review of the film “Of Gods and Men.”

What does it mean to love your neighbor? What does it mean to love your neighbor when a neighbor is pointing a gun at you and your other neighbors? The film “Of Gods and Men,” which won “best film” at France’s equivalent of the Oscars on February 25th, is based on a true story. It follows the lives of French Catholic monks in Algeria in the 1990s as the country descends into violent conflict between a secularist state and radical Islamists.

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Let Fundamental Reforms Bring a New, Peaceful Egypt

It is with a heavy heart that I have watched the events of the past few days unfold. Violence is always regrettable, but to watch my own country deteriorate into virtual chaos is a cause of unimaginable grief and sadness, and the recent attacks against demonstrators are worthy of the strongest condemnation. To see Egypt in such a state of chaos is truly heart-wrenching. There is, however, reason for hope and optimism.

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A Blessing for Muslim-Catholic Dialogue

The recent decision by the Islamic university al-Azhar in Egypt to freeze its participation in inter-faith dialogue with the Vatican may do more to advance Catholic-Muslim dialogue than the al-Azhar/Vatican partnership could ever have achieved.

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The “Mormon Menace”

Nineteenth-century America saw a nationwide campaign to tame the “Mormon menace.” Promoted by an alliance of religious and secular individuals, institutions, and ideals, it even led President Rutherford B. Hayes to recommend stripping Mormons of their citizenship. Although Contending Modernities will focus primarily on Mormonism’s fellow subjects of modern opprobrium—Islam and Catholicism—it is important to consider such other “shadow cases” as we examine the complex dynamics of religion in modernity. The deep pluralism characteristic of the modern age has posed, and will continue to pose, a substantial challenge to the largely Euro-American-Protestant construct of secularism that dominated much of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.

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Egypt’s Sad Entrance into 2011

I returned to Egypt for a visit, as I often do around this time. On New Year’s Eve my husband and I were wandering in the nearly empty streets of our Cairo neighborhood looking for a cyber café as our internet was down. When I saw two men pass by briskly carrying three huge boxes of pastries I thought of the merriment that was unfolding in houses, clubs, and restaurants and of the shouts of joy that would resound at the stroke of midnight. Within hours, though, all hell broke out at a large Coptic church in the heart of Alexandria—ending twenty-one innocent lives and shattering peace and hope throughout the country.

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On the New Year’s Day Church Bombing in Egypt

Terrorism cannot be the outcome of any proper understanding of religion. It is rather a manifestation of the immorality of people with cruel hearts, arrogant souls, and warped logic. It is thus with great sadness and outrage that we witness the emergence of this disease in our nation with the recent bombing outside a church in Alexandria that killed tens of Egyptian citizens. There is no doubt that such barbarism needs to be denounced in the strongest of terms, and opposed at every turn. We demand that the perpetrators be brought to justice and stand trial.

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Orsi Contra Ecclesiam

In Citizens, Simon Schama’s narration of the French Revolution, he describes the revolutionary government’s suppression of the popular rebellion in the Vendée. Far more than a military maneuver, he recounts, the operation sought “the wholesale destruction of an entire region of France.” In a “sinister anticipation of the technological killings of the twentieth century,” the revolution’s armies exterminated women, children, entire villages, and ultimately some one third of the inhabitants of the region. Among the massacres’ chief targets was the Catholic Church….

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