Study Puts Politics, Not Religion, at Heart of Tension Between Muslim World and The West
By Steve Mort
UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, who commissioned the study, backs its calls for a regional Mideast conference and a white paper on solving the crisis. "As long as the Palestinians live under occupation exposed to daily frustration and humiliation and as long as Israelis are blown up in buses and in dance halls, so long will passions everywhere be inflamed."
The report says passions have been inflamed since the September 11th, 2001 terrorist attacks and the subsequent events in Iraq and Afghanistan. The report says both Muslim and Western extremist groups have tried to further stoke these passions.
Archbishop Desmond Tutu says a wide range of steps is needed to tackle the problem. "The Secretary General of the UN was quite clear that he didn't want for this so-called high-level group to be a talk-shop, that we had to make specific recommendations which could be implemented and I think we've done that. It's in areas such as youth, the media, migration, education."
The "Alliance of Civilizations" initiative, set up following riots in Muslim areas of Paris and protests over Danish cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed, recommends more youth exchange programs between the United States and the Middle East, greater tolerance for immigrants, and respect for religion within the media.
It also calls for a special UN representative to be appointed to help defuse crises.
The group's report was launched in Istanbul, the geographical bridge between Europe and Asia. Brazil will host a summit in 2007 in Rio de Janeiro to discuss the findings.
Source: Voice of America News
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