Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Madeleine Albright, John Danforth, and Andrew Kohut ; the Former US Secretary of State, Former US Senator, and Pew Research Center President Discuss the Findings of the New Pew Study, "Islam and the West: A Great Divide?"

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Madeleine Albright, John Danforth, and Andrew Kohut ; the Former US Secretary of State, Former US Senator, and Pew Research Center President Discuss the Findings of the New Pew Study, "Islam and the West: A Great Divide?"

Article excerpt

As the war in Iraq rages, it is not surprising that there is ill will between Muslims and Westerners. Bridging that divide requires understanding its scope and causes. A new study by the Pew Global Attitudes Project contributes to that understanding.

The survey, conducted among some 14,000 people in 13 nations between March 31 and May 14, is available at http://pewglobal.org. Key players in the Pew project discussed their findings at a Monitor- sponsored breakfast for reporters on Thursday morning.

"A real divide does exist between peoples," said Andrew Kohut, President of the Pew Research Center and Director of the Pew Global Attitudes Project. "Muslims and Westerners are generally convinced that relationships are not good these days. Westerners see Muslims as fanatical, violent and not tolerant. Muslims see Westerners as selfish, immoral and greedy.... One of the most startling findings here, most Muslims remain unconvinced that Arabs carried out the September 11 attacks...."

Religious leaders should take a more active role in bridging the divide, argued former Missouri Senator John Danforth. Danforth, a divinity school grad and ordained Episcopal priest, served as President Bush's special envoy to Sudan, and also as US ambassador to the United Nations.

"I think that it would be a very important thing and very constructive to have not just a one-shot meeting but a persistent interreligious dialog," Danforth said. "And I think one of the subjects that would be [an] interesting start to such a dialog is the principle of noncombatant immunity ... it is central in the concept of just-war doctrine."

Danforth continued, "The leaders of Islam have been less than forthcoming in expressing strong views on matters of terrorism.... [Western religious leaders] have not been strong in any respect about how their religion relates to the world beyond themselves.... We are so focused on our own navels and on inside battles about who should be a bishop here or there which nobody really cares about.... We have not been sufficiently focused on the relationship of religion to the rest of the world.... What you see here in the survey is that religion itself is the problem. And if religion is the problem then religion should address the problem."

In terms of governmental policy, former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, co-chair of the Pew Global Attitudes Project, said that the US government should be more active in explaining itself. …

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