Need for Genuine Interfaith Dialogue
During a visit to Italy’s largest military cemetery of World War I, on November 14, expressing his grief over the November 13 terror attacks in Paris, Pope Francis called them a “piece of a piecemeal World War III…war is madness…even today…fought with crimes, massacres, destruction.”
On September 25, this year, at the UN General Assembly, while indicating the unjust global order, Pope Francis, condemned the global financial institutions, calling on them to ensure that countries “are not subjected to oppressive lending systems which, far from promoting progress, subject people to mechanisms which generate greater poverty, exclusion and dependence.”
Earlier, addressing the US Congress, Pope Francis said, “No religion is immune from forms of individual delusion or ideological extremism…we must be especially attentive to every type of fundamentalism. A delicate balance is required to combat violence perpetrated in the name of a religion, an ideology or an economic system…every life is sacred.”
Taking note of America’s non-acceptance of the Syrian refugees, Francis reminded the law-makers by pointing out that the United States “is part of a larger whole one America in the Americas, where immigration is a deeply rooted part of history…we, the people of this continent, are not fearful of foreigners, because most of us were once foreigners.”
Pope Francis also warned of globalization, and said, “Keep in mind all those people around us who are trapped in a cycle of poverty.” He emphasized upon the need of “creation and distribution of wealth.”
While calling for an end to the arms trade by the arms dealers, Francis explained, “Deadly weapons…for money are being sold to those who plan to inflict untold suffering on individuals and society…money that is drenched in blood, often innocent blood.”
He further added, “If politics must truly be at the service of the human person, it follows that it cannot be a slave to the economy and finance.”
However, owing to his religious status, Pope Francis did not openly elaborate his views. In other worlds, he indicated the double games, secret strategies of the rulers, politicians, their collaboration with the arms dealers, creation of a crisis, exploitation of peoples’ feelings etc., and manipulation of the Syrian war at a critical time when the brutalities, committed by the Islamic State group (ISIS) are being blamed by the US-led western entities on the religion of Islam and Muslims. But, the Pope has clarified that it is not in Islam only, such extremism or fundamentalism can infect any faith like Judaism, Christianity and Hinduism which contain extremists who commit crimes in the name of their faith.
In this regard, the double games and secret strategies in relation to the interfaith dialogue needs appropriate analysis.
Just after the September 11 tragedy inside the United States, chauvinism and extremism developed not only in Americans, but also in the media and high officials of the Bush Administration. President Bush used the words, “crusade against the evil-doers”, adding to the perception that the ongoing ‘different war’ against terrorism is actually a war against the Muslim countries.
Brushing aside the Israeli atrocities on the Palestinians, American unity was projected with such force as to allow no questioning of the US policy. Under the cover of the 9/11 catastrophe, preplanned strategy of the neo-conservatives started a fake global war on terror. For the purpose, Israel was given a free in the occupied territories of the Palestine, where every sort of state terrorism was practiced on the innocent persons. Besides, various anti-Muslim developments such as employment of coercive diplomacy, occupation of Afghanistan and Iraq, employment of state terrorism by special military operations, extra-judicial assassinations and heavy aerial bombardment, CIA-FBI-military torture cells, Guantanamo Bay, Abu Graib, sectarian violence (And division on Shia-Sunni basis) etc. resulted into the killing of more than two million Muslims.
President Obama has also continued the same dual strategy. Apart from air strikes on funerals, marriage-ceremonies and mosques in Afghanistan, overthrow of the elected government in Egypt, creation of more collapsed states such as Libya, Syria, Yemen etc., CIA support to the mercenaries and ISIS terrorists, including Al-Qaeda’s Al-Nusra Front in fighting against the Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and Iraqi regime are part of the covert policy of the neo-conservatives to fulfill the unfinished agenda of the Zionists and Israel.
Meanwhile, taking cognizance of the growing threat of terrorism which had been dividing the western and Islamic nations on cultural and religious lines, both President Bush and President Obama orchestrated the drama of interfaith dialogue in wake of phony global war on terror. In this respect, with official backing, many conferences were held in America and Europe, and various countries in which scholars from Islamic states and other western countries also participated with a view to creating cultural understanding among major religious communities. In this connection, a four day conference of Muslim and Christian intellectuals held on August 1, 2008 at the Yale University Divinity School of America for promoting interfaith dialogue, but ended without discussing any issue of religious fundamentalism in relation to state terrorism. Another conference of Muslims, Christians and Jews was held in July, 2008 at Madrid, arranged by the efforts of Saudi King Abdullah. Afterwards, these meetings continued from time to time. However, on the one side, behind the interfaith dialogue, the main aim of Bush and Obama was to pacify the Muslims, Americans and western public, while, on the other to continue the Israel-led state terrorism of America and the US allies on the Muslims.
Despite the so-called interfaith dialogue, blasphemous acts like reprinting of the caricatures about Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) and release of a Dutch film against the Holy Quran and the burning of a copy of the Holy Quran by Pastor Wayne Sapp in a Florida church continued by Zionist plotters against the Christians, Americans Muslims and the peace-loving Jews.
But, the US and Israeli frustration by the recent developments such as Russian airstrikes on the ISIS targets in the northern Syria, its coalition with Iran, Iraq, Syria and Lebanon-based Hezbollah in support of President Assad culminated in terror attacks in Paris which were also part of the Zionist conspiracy against the Muslims, Christians and loyal Americans—the west and particularly Europe.
In the post-Paris attacks phenomena, the US succeeded in getting the assistance of its western allies against Russia. Now, as part of the ambivalent approach, American jet fighters and those of its western coalition are targeting the ISIS terrorists in Iraq and Syria. But, there is also danger of nuclear war or what the pope Francis warned of World War III in wake of anti-Muslim statements of irresponsible politicians and Zionist-controlled media.
In this context, scholars of international affairs agree that “foreign affairs are too foreign” to the citizens of a country. Renowned scholar Prof. Hoslti opines that “issues and situations” have “influence on public opinion” which in turn “influences the objectives and actions.”
In fact, fault can not be laid on the ordinary citizens who are swayed by emotions, stereotypes and prejudices created by the political leaders who keep on manipulating any crisis for their own self-interests with the sole aim of getting their sympathies to increase their vote bank. There are equal strong pressures from religious and nationalist forces in wake of global war on terror which is dividing the world on religious lines.
Like the drastic aftermath of 9/11 tragedy, rulers and politicians of the US-led western countries, especially of Europe are again misguiding their general public by creating chauvinism against the Muslim World by exploiting the critical situation, after the Paris disaster and the shooting at San Bernardino, California. In one way or the other, the Muslims are being persecuted in the US and other western countries, particularly in Europe.
Anti-Islamic policy of their politicians could be judged from the statement of US Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump who recently called for a ban on Muslims, entering the United States in response to the San Bernardino shooting. He stated, “We have no choice…more Sept. 11-style attacks if stern measures are not taken.”
Nevertheless, instead of projecting the so-called threat of Islamophobia which is rapidly dividing the world on religious lines, the US-led western governments must conduct genuine interfaith dialogue among Muslims, Christians, Hindus and non-Zionists Jews.
For the purpose, first of all, by discarding the clandestine strategies of the past theorists like Hobbes, Machiavelli, Morgenthau and Kissinger, leaders of the major powers should resolve the Syrian crisis through negotiations (Or through points agreed upon in the recent Geneva meeting). Then, under the auspices of the UN, a broader alliance of all the stakeholders must be concluded to fight against the ISIS terrorists. And especially, the US must abandon its double game regarding ISIS and Syria.
For the success of interfaith dialogue, some American and western political leaders should stop irresponsible statements by equating the war on terror with war on Islam, and acts of Al Qaeda and ISIS with all the Muslims. Their media should also be brought under control through appropriate legislation or law, as freedom of expression does not mean the introduction of dangerous socio-religious dimension in their societies by dividing world politics on cultural and religious lines with the negative projection of Islam which is a religion of peace, and prohibits any kind of terrorism like other religions.
Moreover, responsibility also lies on the rulers of the Muslim countries including opposition parties and media to refrain from manipulation of the present chaotic situation.
Furthermore, it is suggested to all Christians, Jews, Muslims, Hindus and Buddhists who use social media or Internet for controversial debate, must share it for creating religious harmony which is essential for world peace, their economic development and prosperity. On the occasion of this Christmas, they must pledge selfless global unity in their messages.
Returning to our earlier discussion, instead of the orchestrated drama of the past, there is an immediate need to conduct the genuine interfaith dialogue, before the world enters into a major war of “all against all” in the sense of Hobbesian state of nature.
Sajjad Shaukat writes on international affairs and is author of the book: US vs Islamic Militants, Invisible Balance of Power: Dangerous Shift in International Relations
Courtesy Veterans Today