Global Issues Category

Religious Freedom Part Five: The Best Weapon Against Terrorism

The U.S. is continuing its bombing campaign against ISIS. Secretary of State John Kerry has asked Congress for ground troops. It looks like we will soon see bombs in the air and boots on the ground once again. But below the radar screen, Obama has appointed and Congress has confirmed Rabbi David Saperstein as the new Ambassador-At-Large For International Religious Freedom.

The CIA & Torture: The War on Terror Became the War of Terror

I was happy when the Senate Intelligence Committee report came out this week and exposed the brutal and unfruitful interrogation tactics of the CIA. I understand the good intentions of the CIA , but torture is illegal, ineffective, and immoral.

How Worried Should We Be About Terrorism?

Television and news media are filled with talk about terrorism, and fear is on the rise. But should we be as fearful of terrorism as we are? This report offers a new perspective on violent terrorism as well as on how effective military action really is in breaking up terrorist groups.

Treatment of Non-Muslims in Muslim-Majority Countries

PCI's Martin Brooks has been making a series of short video interviews with his friend Imam Wasif. They discuss a wide range of issues concerning Christian-Muslim relations, and today they talk about the treatment of non-Muslims in Muslim-majority countries.

Religious Freedom Part 4: The Humanitarian Crisis You Never Hear About

Most Americans support religious freedom and believe that everyone should have the right to follow their conscience without fear. But too few Americans show concern for the plight of people persecuted for their faith around the world.

Jeremy Courtney on ISIS: A Perspective from Iraq

Jeremy Courtney held the crowd in rapt attention as he shared about ISIS at a recent peacemaking event in Denver. Jeremy has lived in Iraq since 2006 so he spoke from painful experience.

Talking with Terrorists: Boko Haram and Peacemaking

What if you had a chance to sit down with one of the Boko Haram guys, before they kidnapped the Nigerian girls? If you knew of his plan, would you try to talk him out of it? I mean, even if you were not successful, wouldn't you want to try? Unfortunately, if you did that, you would be in violation of U.S. law.

Why Religious Freedom is One of the Most Important Global Issues We Face (Part One)

Is freedom of religion a liberal political agenda or is it a biblical mandate? The middle-aged man sitting across from me asked this question intently in response to my comments on the role of religious freedom in peacemaking.

Westgate Mall, Just Peacemaking, and al Shabaab

In one of our recent posts, we wrote about how the FBI showed up at one of our Peace Feasts and how our peacemaking efforts help protect young Somali men in America from the recruiting efforts of al Shabaab. Today we'd like to talk more about the situation and share with you this analysis by Peter Sensenig.

Peace Catalyst's Counter Terrorism Effort

Pakistan is one of the largest Muslim countries in the world and a well-known haven for terrorists, including Al Qaeda and the Taliban. It has a stockpile of over 100 nuclear weapons, positioning Pakistan to be either a deterrent to or a supplier of terrorism.

Terrorism and Peacemaking in Pakistan (Part Two)

During the recent meeting of the Interfaith Leaders Network (ILN) in Nepal, I was in awe as I heard the stories of Pakistani Muslim peacemakers and learned about their work. I have faced many sorts of conflict and been in countless dialogues with Muslims, but this was different. Pakistan was different.

American Conservatives, Islam, and Religious Realism in U.S. Foreign Policy

U.S. foreign policy should become more effective in advancing the institutions and habits of religious freedom. Doing so would aid the victims of religious persecution in Muslim-majority countries and advance American national security. How? Empirical studies (and common sense) indicate that more religious freedom in those countries will reduce violent religious extremism, including the terrorism that has reached our shores, while also increasing the chances for stable democracy and economic growth.

Peacemaking in Pakistan: Promoting Religious Freedom

A few months ago, Douglas Johnston called and asked if Peace Catalyst wanted to partner with ICRD. He asked me to recruit evangelical leaders who would meet with high-level Muslim leaders from Pakistan to dialogue about religious freedom. We have a two-point agenda: (1) to address the persecution of minorities in Pakistan, many of whom are Christians, and (2) to address the problem of Islamophobia in the U.S.

American Muslims: Challenges

In this, the second blog in a series of two, I would like to discuss some of the challenges the U.S. Muslim community faces in the coming years.

Three Phases of Relationship Between Islam and the USA

Principles of separation of religion and government do not apply in many places, but the U.S. has laws that limit the roles of religion in government. Are U.S. laws applicable in other countries?

From Perpetual War to Building Peace

The U.S. is moving away from the state of perpetual war that has marked the post 9/11 era. President Obama’s May 23 speech on counterterrorism policy makes a strong case for moving the country in the direction of new, more comprehensive strategies that address root causes of terrorism as well as its violent manifestations. He rightly notes that “force alone cannot make us safe” and that perpetual war “will prove self-defeating, and alter our country in troubling ways.”

My Jihad Against Islamophobia and All Kinds of Religious Discrimination

I sat down for a meal with Imam Karim and announced I was there to partner with him in his jihad against Islamophobia. A big smile flashed across his face as he reached out to shake my hand across the table. But this conversation was not just about my jihad against Islamophobia.

Seeking Peace Among Muslim Refugees: Three Lessons Learned

World Refugee Day was June 20th, and in honor of that day and all the refugees among us, we'd like to share this blog from Josh Prather, one of our PCI staff who has been working with refugees in Phoenix for several years and has learned a great deal along the way.

The Man From Salalah

On the last evening of 2011, as daylight blurred into nightfall, I sat quietly in a plane on a runway flanked by desert in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. I was nearing the completion of a long trip from Washington, D.C. to Muscat, the capital of Oman, a country occupying the southeastern part of the Arabian Peninsula. I was bracing to begin a two-week graduate seminar in Christian-Muslim relations at Al Amana Centre in Muscat.

Bobby Ghosh: Why Global Jihad is Losing

Today we thought we'd share this TED video from TEDxGeorgetown. TIME magazine editor Bobby Ghosh talks about 'jihad', and says that the global jihad of terror is in its final days. "Bin Laden probably thought 9/11 was his greatest achievement," he says. "In reality, it was the beginning of the end for him. He killed 3,000 innocent people, and that filled the Muslim world with horror revulsion, and what that meant was that his idea of jihad would never become mainstream."

Shari’a and Homegrown Terrorism

Especially since the 9/11 attacks on US soil, we Americans have struggled to come to terms with the concept of Shari’a. One of the (secondary) justifications for our invasion of Afghanistan in the wake of those murderous attacks was to “liberate” their women from the clutches of “this medieval and repressive system.” True, the Taliban’s legal code forbade women from going to school, working, and wearing anything in public but the traditional village burqa. But our fear of Shari’a is not just about women’s rights, or even some of the prescribed punishments for theft or adultery that seem barbaric to us. Our real fear, understandably, is terrorism.

Bob Roberts Jr Meets with President Morsi of Egypt

Today's post was written by Bob Roberts Jr., author and senior pastor at Northwood Church, and originally posted on his blog. Today we're re-posting it here with his permission...

Little Kingdom, Big Impact for Peace

Readers on this PCI website will no doubt know about the 2007 Common Word letter addressed to the Pope and all Christian leaders and originally signed by 138 of the world’s most respected Muslim scholars from all traditions. It was Rick Love who coordinated the conference at Yale University that provided a forum for Christian and Muslim scholars to discuss this historic document. What you may not know is the role played in this by Ghazi bin Muhammad, cousin to King Abdullah II of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan. the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, small in both population and wealth, has had an inordinate amount of influence in the Muslim world during the first decade of this century.

Free To Believe and Practice, Free Not To

Thanks to an email from Chris Seiple, president of the Institute for Global Engagement, I read what he was calling a landmark speech on religious freedom by US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Her speech was marking the State Department's release of the 2011 International Freedom of Religion Report, which opens with the words of Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR)...

Reconciliation Possible in Nigeria

It's not that Nigeria is at war. But it does feel like that for many Nigerians, and especially the Christians.

King Abdullah Speaking Out Against Terrorism

Many people believe that Muslims around the world are not speaking out against terrorism and Islamic extremism, but it's simply not true. This is a video we like of King Abdullah II of Jordan, speaking at the National Prayer Breakfast in Washington D.C. in 2005. Watch it to hear what his country and others are doing to promote a peaceful Islam, and share it with your friends!

Praying Peace: Women Speak to God and the World

The year from spring 2011 to the coming spring of 2012 has been a year full of women proclaiming "Peace!" at the top of their lungs. Not quiet wishes for tranquility or ease, but bold pushes toward equity and right-ness, even as they are buffeted in the process. Faced with such conviction, I wonder if their demands don't carry the same weight we assign to formal "prayer": an act moving people beyond themselves in acknowledgement of Something bigger, Someone more gracious and powerful. Across boundaries of age, economic status, nationality, and religion, women are reaching for more. Praying.

A Muslim and Christian Holistic Approach to Poverty

As people of faith, both Christians and Muslims, God calls us to face this issue head on from both the macro level (thinking about the poorest of the poor worldwide) and the micro level (what we can do locally). God also expects us to work simultaneously on long-term solutions, tackling systemic injustices globally, nationally, and even locally; and on short term poverty alleviation, that is, assisting victims of floods, earthquakes, and other natural disasters.

Palestine: A Two-Sided, Not a Two-State Solution

You are already aware of what comes to mind when people think of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict: young Israeli soldiers with machine guns. Palestinian boys throwing rocks at these machine gun-toting Israelis. Palestinian suicide bombers blowing up buses of Israelis. The massive cement wall snaking its way through this divided country bringing "security" to Israelis and "oppression" to the Palestinians. I just spent 10 days in the un-holy land and I, too, picture all of the scenes above. But I now have a new way of seeing the threats upon Israelis and the occupation of the Palestinians.

Ayaan Hirsi Ali's Tale of Christophobia

Last week I happened to see Newsweek's cover article, "The Global War on Christians in the Muslim World," and read it immediately. My reaction was that, like Ayaan Hirsi's other writings, it is less than truthful. In short...

Robert Spencer and the Stealth Jihad

A reader of my previous blog, “Fear, Inc.,” asked a very reasonable question. He or she had wondered how accurate my placing Robert Spencer among the “purveyors of hate and misinformation” actually was. I like this. I know everyone on the PCI team wants open and transparent communication. Indeed, let’s urge one another to speak the truth and to speak it in love, as Paul challenged the Ephesian church.

Fear, Inc.

The flames of suspicion, hate and fear swept over our country in the 1940s and 1950s, fanned by the zealous anti-Communist Senator from Wisconsin, Joseph McCarthy. Government employees, people from the entertainment industry, the unions and universities, were dragged before interrogation panels, some staged by the government, some privately sponsored. Thousands lost their jobs and reputations as a result, and hundreds were imprisoned. More gravely, the whole country was caught in a vortex of hysteria, mutual denigration, and bitter debates. The current campaign in the United States to vilify Muslims is certainly reminiscent of the McCarthyism of the 1950s.

The Many Meanings of Hijab, continued

Our challenge, as we think about Muslim women, is to admit that the hijab opens up complex issues that won’t fit into catchy media sound bites. Each of these women, who for the most part have chosen to wear the head covering and dress modestly, is a unique individual with her own set of issues. In the end, it’s our common humanity that will help us break down stereotypes and develop a better understanding of one another.

The Many Meanings of Hijab

First, when it comes to women and clothing, let’s get one misconception out of the way: “Islam oppresses women.” That is the default statement that, even when not stated outright, is assumed by non-Muslim westerners while their minds dance with this image of Muslim women waddling down the road covered in black cloth from head to toe.

Are Men and Women Equal?

You know from my last blog that large majorities of Muslims worldwide believe that women should have the same civil, political and professional rights as men. Many of you are thinking, "but doesn’t 'Islam' oppress women?" Let’s unpack that statement and see 1) what’s behind this perception, and 2) why Muslims themselves fiercely disagree with one another on these issues.

Driving in Riyadh - If You're Female

Saudi Arabia is the only country in the world where women are banned from driving. Many leading princes among the more than 5,000 of their peers favor a lifting of the ban. But many others side with the conservative elements in Saudi society and see this as kowtowing to western norms. For them, allowing women behind the wheel is to slide down the slippery slope of women’s liberation with all the immorality and filth it leads to.

Whose God is Allah? - Part 2

Earlier this week, Norani Abu Bakar guest blogged about the use of the word Allah in different countries and by different faith communities around the world. Today, she concludes the discussion by looking at the way the word is used in Indonesia and Malaysia.

Whose God is Allah? - Part 1

In the 21st century, the word “Allah” has different meanings for different people around the world. As I have lived in different countries and met people of diverse backgrounds, I have found that the definition of Allah relies heavily on a person's background and faith traditions. Unfortunately, the word "Allah" also sparks hostility and violence. So who is Allah to the regional Muslims and non-Muslims across the globe?

Common God, Common Purpose - Part 2

Last month, David Johnston began a two-part blog series about the theological commonalities between Abrahamic faiths, and the common purpose it gives them. Read his concluding thoughts in this post.

Common God, Common Purpose - Part 1

Syria’s Ba’athist regime has had a history of bloody crackdowns, especially at the hand of the current president’s father, Hafez al-Asad. Most infamously, he had 10,000 - 30,000 people massacred almost overnight in the city of Hama in 1982. No opposition could be tolerated by this secularist regime (likewise for Saddam Hussein, his Ba’athist neighbor), especially in the name of Islam. Thirty years later, several hundred people have been wantonly killed in the peaceful “Arab Spring” protests of the last few months.

Should we Promote and Protect Freedom of Religion for All?

In 2008 I led a conference in Kenya of fifty evangelical leaders from around the world. One of the issues on the table was how to counter the increasing alienation between Muslims and Christians. The result? We wrote a consensus document for evangelicals called The Grace and Truth Affirmation. In this document, we commend nine biblical guidelines for inter-religious engagement with Muslims, one of which is to be persistent in our call for religious freedom:

Greater & Lesser Jihad

In his short series on the subject of jihad, Dr. David Johnston now explains the concepts of the “greater” and “lesser jihad”, as found in the Quran. You may be surprised at the conclusion!

Jihad: The Struggle to Follow God's Path

I ended the first half of this blog arguing that Sayyid Qutb’s definition of jihad, as total and permanent war until Islam reigns supreme in the world, was a throwback to the consensus of Muslim jurists and theologians in the classical period, and a vigorous push back against the modern Islamic consensus that military jihad can only be justified in the case of foreign invasion. Let me unpack that here.

Holy Wars - Israelites versus bin Laden

In this guest post, Islamic Studies specialist David L. Johnston gives background on the "sword verses" in the Quran and the concept of jihad.

Blessing Israelis and Palestinians Today

Today David Johnston continues his post from last week and endeavors to present readers with a pro-peace perspective on the Middle Eastern crisis. After explaining the roots of Christian Zionism and American Christianity, he goes on to explain the present situation in the Israel / Palestine area and to exhort Christians towards a pro-peace stance regarding the current conflict.

Our Call to Bless Israelis and Palestinians

Seeking a Pro-Israel, Pro-Palestine and Pro-Peace Solution to the Israeli-Palestinian Crisis

Islamophobia, Terrorism and Congressman King

A Muslim woman wearing a hijab (scarf) was recently kicked off of a Southwest flight because som...

Sharia Law: Should it be Outlawed?

Sharia itself – as a sign and symbol – remains at the heart of Muslim spirituality. And for that reason, in the best tradition of our American democracy, we should shun witch hunts of all kinds and welcome to the table our fellow Americans who happen to be Muslims, as we did – reluctantly at first – Catholics and Jews in the not-so-distant past.

Sharia Conspiracy Theories

Muslims disagree on many details of theology, law and politics - as do Jews and Christians among themselves. But one thing is for sure: the conspiracy theories of Jerry Boykin and Steven Emerson have nothing to do with the view of Sharia law held by the overwhelming majorty of the Muslim American community.

A “Clash of Civilizations”?

I am fascinated by the phenomenon of religion, how it developed over the millennia in various parts of the world; how religiosity has mushroomed globally since the 1980s especially; and how followers of the two largest “religions” – Muslims and Christians – can dig into the treasures of their traditions and invest those resources to build a more peaceful and righteous world. This series of blogs is my attempt to pull out from my academic publications (and lectures) bits and pieces that I think will widen your perspective and inspire you to take part in this movement – whether you are Christian, Muslim, Buddhist or purely “secular.”

Loving Muslims and Dealing with Terrorists

Peace Catalyst President, Rick Love, addresses the issue of both loving Muslims and dealing with terrorists.

Muslims, Human Rights, and Human Wrongs

Peace Catalyst President Rick Love blogs about the importance of human rights in Christian-Muslim relations.