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Oklahoma Voices:
Islam, Terrorism and Democracy (Jun 22, 2008)

Over the past decade, Islamic fundamentalism has become the most visible face of worldwide terrorism, but is it fair to draw a connection? This week on Oklahoma Voices, we examine the roots of religious extremism and hear several contrarian points of view.

First, we listen back to several presentations from a conference focusing on Islamic perspectives on terror. It was held in April at Oklahoma City University. Rice University Religion Professor Jill Carroll discusses how Islam and other religions are often used as a cover for political motivations. Religions are mirrors of ourselves, she argues, so they represent both the best and worst in us; religions are violent because we are violent.

University of Chicago Political Science Professor Robert Pape speaks about the driving forces behind suicide terrorism. Attacks perpetrated by Muslim terrorists point to Islamic fundamentalism as a central cause. But Papeís thorough analysis of more than 460 suicide terrorists around the world shows that neither Islam nor any other religion functions as the main cause.

Finally, University of Oklahoma Middle East History Professor Joshua Landis speaks with Columbia University Government Professor Alfred Stepan, who visited the OU campus recently. Stepan is an influential scholar on the relationship between Islam and democracy. He picks up where Pape left off in dispelling the notion that Islam is inherently undemocratic or the prime motivating factor of many terrorists. Rather, by looking at Islamic countries like Senegal and Indonesia, heís concluded that itís the culture of the Middle East thatís the root cause of much of the violence and unrest.

WEB EXTRA: Read Stepanís widely cited and discussed article that appeared in the Journal of Democracy in 2000, ďReligion, Democracy and the Twin TolerationsĒ

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