The Role Of Religion In Conflict

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Following Dr. Vesselin Popovski’s discussion on armed conflict and the United Nations, one thing that struck me was his question: Does religion cause wars? Do we fight in the name of God? The present atrocities being committed in the Middle East by the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant/Sham (ISIL/ISIS), also called Da’esh, are without doubt a ghastly violation of the most fundamental human rights. These Islamic extremists, purportedly acting in the name of religion, had been carrying out forced conversions, mass beheadings, abductions and torture against non-Muslims, including Christians, Yezidis, Kurds, Turkmens, and Shabaks in Iraq, Syria, Turkey, and Libya. The role of religion in conflict has long been debated within academic circles. On one hand are those who profess that religion is the number one cause of conflict throughout history, as exemplified by the Crusades and the Inquisition, and more recently, the Da’esh violence in the Middle East, the 9/11 attacks, the Bali bombings, and the Israeli-Palestinian dispute. In Myanmar, a group of Buddhist monks were the leaders of an ethnic cleansing campaign against Muslims, particularly the Rohingya minority. Hitler arguably implicated religion in his quasi-mystical racist propaganda against the Jews. On the other end of the spectrum are scholars who propose that religion is but one amongst a myriad of causes of conflict. A 2008 study, known as the Encyclopedia of Wars, classified only 123 out of 1,763 documented wars

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