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George Carey: “Religion Central to Terrorism Debate”: CEN 7.19.07 p 4. July 19, 2007

Posted by geoconger in Archbishop of Canterbury, British Foreign Policy, Church of England Newspaper, Islam, Multiculturalism.

Lord Carey has criticized attempts to airbrush religion out of the debate on terrorism, telling the All Party Parliamentary Group on Tackling Terrorism that an understanding of the religious dynamic was essential in defeating Islamist terrorism.

The government had to take care in avoiding “two dangers,” the former Archbishop of Canterbury said on July10 at Westminster .

“One is to tar all Muslims with the brush of extremism and Islamism. The second is to airbrush Islam out of the picture by suggesting that Islamists do not represent Muslims. They do represent many Muslims but not all, and possibly not the majority. Not all Islamists are terrorists, but Islamism will always be a threat to the values and traditions of a western democracy,” Lord Carey said.

His comments come in the wake of Prime Minister Gordon Brown’s ban on using the word “Muslim” by his cabinet colleagues in ­connection with the ­terrorism crisis. Following the Glasgow airport attack the prime minister also instructed the cabinet that the phrase “war on terror” was to be dropped, in what is believed to be a bid to avoid giving offense to Muslims.

Lord Carey, who has taken an active leadership role in Christian-Muslim dialogue since his retirement as Archbishop of Canterbury, told the Parliamentary committee that the “religious component” was essential in understanding the “causes of Islamist terrorism.”

The West consistently failed to comprehend the “religious dimension” motivating terrorists, and policies that avoided this component were doomed to failure.”

“Islamist terrorism” was an international phenomenon that was “indiscriminate in its victims,” he said, noting that it was appropriate to “use a term like ‘Islamist’ to describe it rather than a more neutral term because its ideology is deeply theological. To separate the words ‘terrorist’ and ‘Islamist’ is to ignore the fact that Islam is being interpreted in such a way to lend justification to violence.”

Committee members Mohammed Sarwar MP and Lord Ahmed challenged Lord Carey’s linkage of “Islamist” and “terrorist”, arguing that not all Muslims were terrorists. The former Archbishop agreed, but said it was “vital to recognise what we are up against. The enemy is not Islam, the religion, or Muslims, the people. It is an ideology that distorts a faith.”

Defeating Islamist terrorism began with strengthening the position of “moderates in Muslim communities and starve the radicals of oxygen.” A nuanced security response was also important as “spying” was “not the answer,” as “many Muslim communities feel that they are under siege and threatened on all sides, they need affirmation and encouragement to participate in wider society.”

Lord Carey urged the registration of all Mosques, requiring foreign Imams be properly trained and fluent in English before being permitted to immigrate to Britain , requiring faith schools to adhere to state curriculums, and resisting demands for parallel legal structures for Muslims. “Sharia courts should not replace civil courts,” he argued.

It was necessary to “empower and facilitate religious dialogue at every level,” Lord Carey argued. “There are already a host of dialogues taking place and no more are needed,” he said, “butt it is important for governments, intelligence communities and Parliamentarians to hear from those experienced in interfaith dialogue about the directions of this dialogue, about the current movements in Islam.”

Winning over the “hearts and minds” of the Muslim world “requires a holistic response” and supporting and funding “scholarship which is engaging in the work of exploring democratic and secularising traditions within Islam,” Lord Carey said.

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