AMERICA/UNITED STATES - Religion is a factor of peace. This was the subject of a meeting sponsored by the American Embassy to the Holy See held at the S. Egidio Community centre in Rome

Thursday, 10 March 2005

Rome (Fides Service) - Since the Treaties of Westphalia (1648) which marked the end of the Thirty Years War, the West has put aside the concept of a war of religion . The 9/11 terrorist attacks in 2001 in the United States however re-launched the debate whether or not the West is confronted with a religious war with the Muslim world. This vast and sensitive issue was the subject of a conversation with Jack Miles, senior adviser of the J. Paul Getty Trust, and winner of the 1996 Pulitzer Award for his book “God: a biography”.
During the meeting, organised by the American Embassy to the Holy See at the S. Egidio Community centre in Rome it emerged that the 9/11 attacks were a failure for the perpetrators. Instead of weakening the West and causing a fracture with the world of Islam, they produced world wide solidarity with the United States because people realised that the threat is not Islam in itself, but how it is presented by terrorist groups who claim to be acting on behalf of Muslims.
However the war Iraq, has caused a fracture with the Muslim world which must be healed. The United States have a political tradition of religious freedom remembering the horrors of religious wars fought in Europe in the centuries prior to the peace made in Westphalia. In this context Islamic communities in the United States have full freedom of association, they are present all over the States and have no special links with any particular country. “American Muslims are a valuable resource for the United States” said Miles, underlining that the openness and cultural vivacity of American Muslim communities can further deeper understanding between the Muslim world and the West.
Miles said the integration of Muslims in the social and political life of Western democracies is a challenge which regards both Europe and the United States. On the basis of America’s political tradition it is necessary to create an encounter of cultures to promote better reciprocal understanding among peoples. (L.M.) (Agenzia Fides 10/3/2005 righe 30 parole 398)