In his new book Acts of Faith, Eboo Patel writes that the premier conflict of the 21st century will be over faith – not necessarily between different religions but rather between the totalitarians and pluralists within those religions. Examples of totalitarian groups are Al-Qaeda, the Christian Identity Movement, and Aum Shrinrikyo. Their members are people who, as Hishem Melham said during his Athenaeum speech on terrorism, “believe that they are 100% right and you are 100% wrong.” This mindset exists because of lack of understanding and fear of others and their traditions. Therefore, the best way to fight terrorism and religious totalitarianism is to embrace a more pluralistic society. Unfortunately, the movement towards pluralism and interfaith cooperation can sometimes be stalled by fear of “the other.”


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