Religious violence has a long history

Oliver McTernan on the challenge of religiously inspired violence

The World Today Published 9 February 2017 Updated 24 November 2020 3 minute READ

Oliver McTernan

Director of Forward Thinking and author of ‘Violence in God’s Name: The Role of Religion in an Age of Conflict’

A friend, who spent many years broadcasting on the BBC, told me recently how difficult it was to get news coverage for stories that portrayed a positive image of religion and of Islam in particular. If it wasn’t about Abu Hamza, the extremist preacher, news editors, she claimed, were not interested. The reason for this was simple. Ever since 9/11, Islam has been viewed through the prism of extremism, a view reinforced by the more recent barbaric actions of Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, and the atrocities on the streets of Paris, Brussels and Nice.

Yet to single out one religion as the sole perpetrator of terror in the world is to distort the historical record and contemporary reality, as well as to misjudge the extent and the complexity of the challenge we face.

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