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05-09-2007, 05:09 AM
Canadian Thinker Blames US for Muslim Gap

IslamOnline.net & News Agencies

LONDON — Renowned Canadian philosopher Charles Taylor blames the US for the yawning gap separating Americans, along with the rest of the Western world, from Muslims since the 9/11 attacks.

"America missed a valuable opportunity after 9/11 to strengthen moderate Muslims in their own countries and to build bridges," Taylor, who received the Templeton Prize on Wednesday, May 2, told Reuters.

The prize is the most prestigious in the world of religion.

The award-wining, US-based thinker, whose work has touched on spirituality, violence and culture, said the American response to the terror acts has deepened a gap of mistrust with Muslims worldwide.

He warned that misjudged policies are the major motivator for terrorists.

"We can't stop doing the things that are making us lose hearts and minds."

The Oxford Research Group (ORG) has recently accused the US and UK of using Cold War-styled policies in dealing with terrorism, resorting to military might and ignoring the root causes of terror.

Taylor, who penned more than a dozen book, said that intervention in the Muslim world, such as the invasion-turned-occupation of Iraq, is already aggravating the dilemma.

"The war in Iraq has been a recruitment poster for violent Jihadists. Constant violence in Palestine is another recruitment poster."

Experts have warned that the American foreign policy has been acting as the unacknowledged catalyst for terrorism.

The US National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC) has concluded in its newest report that while terror attacks went up by 30 percent in 2006, the main victims were Muslims.

It admitted that the Iraq occupation has been used as a "rallying cry" for radicalization and extremist activity.


Taylor, a professor of law and philosophy, believes that the cause of extremism in Western societies is always the same, deep-seated Islamophobia.

"There is extreme anger, a powerful sense of alienation."

He also accused sensational Western media of demonizing Muslims and Arabs as violent, dangerous and threatening people.

"When we give in too easily to Islamophobia in the media and in speeches we are heading for polarization.

"We in the West have done a lot of stupid things to increase this."

The Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) has last week urged Western media to be objective in covering Muslim news and help develop tolerance and mutual understanding between the Muslim world and the West.

The Islamic Human Rights Commission said in a recent report that the Western media and film industry were demonizing Muslims.

Famed US academic Stephen Schwartz had criticized the western media for failing to meet the challenge of reporting on Islam and Arab issues after the 9/11 attacks.

Taylor, 75, cautioned that the Islamophobic practices could eventually lead to an unaffordable outcome.

"In Western secularized society and the media there is a dumping down about understanding the spirituality of people's lives, how complex they are," he said.

"If we persist in this way we could produce the nightmare of a real clash of civilizations."

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