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Current Religious-Based Conflicts

  U. S. A.

Moslems versus Jews/Christians


          Unlike much of the rest of the world, the United States of America has long been immune from major religious-based conflict - some say as a result of its historical democratic form of government allowing, among other things, free speech and expression.

          This was true - until September, 2001.

          The attack on America which has been attributed to a Moslem extremist network Al Qaeda, headed by the Saudi Arabian, Usama bin Laden, killed more than 3,000 people and caused extensive property and social damage in New York City, Washington, D.C. and in Pennsylvania.  The damage to the property attacked, airplanes destroyed, and subsequently to the U.S. economy as a result of this attack, has been estimated to be in the hundreds of billions of US dollars. Al Qaeda is Arabic for "military base" and encompasses members and factions of several major Islamic organizations, among them Al-Jihad of Egypt, the Armed Islamic Group of Algeria, Harakat ul-Mujahidin of Pakistan, the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan and opposition groups in Saudi Arabia.

          Though, unfortunately not so described in the media or by the U.S. Government at this point, these terrorist acts were the acts of a group dedicated to eliminate all who opposed their religious beliefs.  They are, purely and simply, religious extremists.  They overemphasize that their religious beliefs are right and everyone else is wrong.  In many speeches and writings bin Laden and his associates have stated that the US army is an "enemy of Islam" (1998); that "it is the duty of Moslems to prepare as much force as possible to terrorize the enemies of God" i.e. all who are not Moslems (1998); that "Moslems should kill Americans - including civilians - anywhere in the world they are found" (1998) and so on. It is religion that feeds the murderous aims of these terrorists.  This overemphasis of religious differences has led to the first serious act of religious-based violence in the United States.  As Andrew Sullivan stated in his cogent article in the New York Times referring to the September 11th attack, "This is a Religious War" (NYT Magazine, October 7, 2001, pages 44 et seq).

          While the full consequences of this attack remain to be seen, it is clear that its costs - not only to the U.S. but to much of the world - will be enormous. According to reports published in November, 2001, the U.S. alone has spent more than one billion US dollars a month in its military effort to find and bring down Al Qaeda, bin Laden and their supporters, an effort which it plans to subsequently expand to include other terrorist networks in the world.

          Subsequent to the September 11th attack letters containing the deadly poison, anthrax, were received at the offices of various U.S. officials.  While it has not been determined, at this writing, whether they stem from the same sources, and Al Qaeda has not taken responsibility, there is that suspicion, since no other explanation seems appropriate.  Several people have died from this poison.

          And, sadly, one of the many reactions in the U.S. was for some to take umbrage against all Moslems there for the attack by a minute few.  For instance, in December, 2001, the chairman and another member of the Jewish Defense League in Los Angeles were arrested on suspicion of plotting to blow up the King Fahd Mosque in Culver City (a suburb of Los Angeles) as well as the office of an Arab-American U.S. congressman, Representative Darrell Issa.

          Many, in and out of the U.S. Government, felt that the U.S. had not seen the end to this expanded phase of religious-based conflict there.



          The financial and social costs resulting from the September 11, 2001 attack on America, though only a small part of the overall costs in the world attributable to religious-based conflict, have been enormous - and are growing.  According to a recent Associated Press article, one of the fallouts from the attacks on America last September 11th will be the loss of more than 1.6 million U.S. jobs in 2002! (AP, January 11, 2002).  This based on a study of 315 cities throughout the U.S. by the Milken Institute, a Santa Monica based economics think tank.  Of the estimated 1.6 million job loss this year, about 760,000 will be directly related to the attacks, with the rest being due to a so-called ripple effect.  Add to this an estimated $40 billion in potential insurance claims for the World Trade Center attack alone; and the fact that the U.S. Congress has already provided more than $60 billion since last September to combat, what it calls "terrorism at home and abroad" (read "religious-based violence" here. See our September, 2001 Update) to rebuild from the September 11th attacks, and one can discern a small part of the dreadful financial and social costs resulting from religious-based conflict in its most extreme form.  Furthermore, a US Department of Defense report of February, 2002 estimated that it would spend an additional $30 billion for the fiscal year 2002.  And, other US agencies were spending billions more. Fortunately, more and more commentators are beginning to acknowledge that the September 11th attack was, in fact, religious-based violence rather than simply senseless terrorism (see, e.g. New York Times Magazine article entitled "This is a Religious War" by Andrew Sullivan, Oct, 7, 2001, p 44 et seq)

          But what is the world doing to solve the problem?  Will attacking the nests of the terrorists and eliminating them SOLVE the problem?  No it will not, but it will give us time to work on solving the problem. The solution is to so sensitize the people of the world AGAINST the overemphasis of religious differences and TOWARD more emphasis on those common threads of similarity which all religions have, to the point where the people themselves stop the violence, not only by refusing to accept it as a way of life, but principally by educating the children against, rather than for - as is the case in many areas now - the overemphasis of religious differences.  This is the mission of the Center, and we need your support.

           According to a recent article in a leading US newspaper, $2.3 billion has been raised to help the victims and their families by the 11 largest US charities in the nine months since the September 11, 2001 attacks on America, and this total continues to climb (Washington Post, June 10, 2002).  However, we know of no funds donated to actually solve the problem!

          Until we address the problem for what it really is - not just "terrorism" - we have little hope of ever resolving it. The Center is the only independent organization working towards this goal, and we need your help.

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