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Is religion a factor for peace or violence?

2014-09-09

Is religion a factor for peace or violence? It's a question that's been raised repeatedly, especially now in the Middle East. Under the theme, Peace is the Future, the Community of St. Egidio held a two day conference in Antwerpen, Belgium, to discuss the issue. 

MARCO IMPAGLIAZZO
Community of St. Egidio, President
"This year's conference is taking place in a delicate moment in history. We have extreme violence in the name of religion. Every day we hear of something happening in the Middle East, Iraq, Syria and Libya.” 

The meeting is an extension of the inter-religious prayer gathering in Assisi. This year, the discussion coincides with a key anniversary. 

This year marks 100 years since the start of World War I. But back then, a sense of nationalism sparked most of the conflicts. Now, religion seems to be the underlying theme. That too, was discussed among religious leaders, the laity and even non-believers. 

MARCO IMPAGLIAZZO
Community of St. Egidio, President
"Muslims themselves have said that they're facing a problem with Islam. That problem is in the way the youth is being educated. The younger generation is steering away from the true Muslim religion and embracing these ideologies, not realizing that religion and violence don't go together.” 

Part of the problem, said one of the experts, is that modern Islamic countries monopolized religious education, which eventually lead to exploiting religion for political and economic interests. 

Now with religion leading the discussion, experts say inter-religious dialogue is critical for younger generations, as a way to foster a sense of respect and understanding. 


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