The War on Terrorism: A Panel Discussion at Georgetown University

By Swanson, Rob | Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, November 1998 | Go to article overview

The War on Terrorism: A Panel Discussion at Georgetown University


Swanson, Rob, Washington Report on Middle East Affairs


THE WAR ON TERRORISM: A PANEL DISCUSSION AT GEORGETOWN UNIVERSITY

At a panel discussion held at the Georgetown University Center for Contemporary Arab Studies on Sept. 3, Georgetown University faculty members were unanimous in calling for a re-examination of American policies that have become the catalyst for terrorist attacks against U.S. diplomatic and military installations overseas.

The discussion, entitled "The War on Terrorism: The Impact on U.S.-Arab and U.S.-Muslim Relations," sought to explore both the roots of recent terrorist attacks and the repercussions of U.S. retaliatory strikes in Afghanistan and Sudan.

"I don't believe terrorism can be analyzed when it is divorced from its political context," said Michael C. Hudson, professor of Arab studies at Georgetown and moderator of the panel.

Dr. John Esposito, director of the Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding at Georgetown, focused on the religious aspects of terrorism. He noted that religious motivations for terrorist acts are examples of twisting religious texts to mean whatever an individual wants them to mean. Esposito said a distorted picture of a religion is what emerges after an act of terrorism, but people must not confuse the distortion with the real message of the religion. "You have to distinguish between belief and the manipulation of belief," Esposito said. In response to the charge that America is targeted because it is "secular," Esposito said instead that terrorists are responding to what they perceive as real injustices in American foreign policy. …

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