Leave Religion out of it

When I first heard that someone had shot and killed 32 people on an American university campus, the first thought that came to mind was: Please God, let it not be a Muslim! By the time the full details of the horrific tragedy unfolded, it was clear that he wasn’t, although a brief moment of dread emerged when the shooter was described as Asian.

Of course to the victims of that massacre on that campus in Virginia and to those who loved and knew them, it wouldn’t have mattered one way or another what faith the killer followed, which nationality he belonged to or what ideology, if any, he subscribed to.

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A Difficult Diagnosis

One of the problems of today’s analysis of the terrorist threat is the tendency to over-simplify the diagnosis. George Bush did it when hewarned the world after 9/11: “You are either with us or with the terrorists.” Writers, analysts and academics continue to do it today when addressing the reasons why extremism, or at least sympathy with extremist ideologies, continues to rise. But despite overbearing and intrusive security measures, draconian terror laws that lock up suspects for weeks without charge, trial or legal representation, and wars fought with unprecedented might that claim the lives of hundreds of thousands, we still seem to be losing the battle for the hearts and minds of the young. Why?

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