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March 7, 2005

Press Release, March 8 (WG 4)

Thematic Subject Area I: The Causes and Underlying Factors of Terrorism
Working Group 4
Religion and Religious Extremism

March 8th, the International summit on Democracy and terrorism will host a fourteen member panel to debate the contemporary relationship between religion and terrorism. The following specific topics will be addressed:

  • Explanations behind the contemporary rise in religious extremism and/or terrorism.
  • The differences between religions; which ones lend themselves to extremism and violence, while other ones do not?
  • What makes religiously motivated terrorists tick? Are they different than other terrorists?
  • Practical steps that can be taken to prevent abuses and misinterpretations of religious texts.
  • How can the state respond to religiously motivated terrorism?
The conclusions of this working group and 16 others will be incorporated into the Agenda of Madrid, which will be published on March 11th, 2005.

Working group members will include:

Working Group Coordinator:

  • Mark Juergensmeyer (USA), professor of sociology at the University of California at Santa Barbara. Expert on religious violence, conflict resolution and politics. Author of Terror in the Mind of God: The Global Rise of Religious Violence (University of California Press 2003).


  • Azyumardi Azra (Indonesia), rector of the National Islamic University, Jakarta. Has written numerous books on reforming Islam with a particular focus on the Southeast Asian context. Is considered one of the leading advocates of modernising Islamic education.
  • Dalil Boubakeur (France), rector of the Muslim Institute of the Paris Mosque. Well-known and effective activist, speaking out in favour of tolerance and reconciliation between Muslims, Christians, and Jews, especially in Europe.
  • Antonio Elorza (Spain), professor of political science at the University Complutense, Madrid. Has focused on social movements and, more recently, Islamic extremism in Spain. Co-authored El Nuevo Terrorismo Islamista (Temas de Hoy 2005).
  • John L. Esposito (USA), professor of religion, international affairs and Islamic studies at Georgetown University. Leading authority on Islam and democracy. Has authored more than thirty books on the issue, including Unholy War: Terror in the Name of Islam (Oxford Press, 2002).
  • Dru Gladney (USA), professor of Asian studies and anthropology at the University of Hawaii. Consults the World Bank, the UNHCR and others on Central Asia, China and Islam. Author of Muslim Chinese: Ethnic Nationalism in the Peoples Republic (Harvard University Press 1996).
  • Jalal Al-Mashta (Iraq), editor-in-chief of the An-Nahda political newspaper and formerly director general of Al Iraqiya television, Baghdad. Influential political affairs analyst, who has extensively written on the currents of religious extremism in contemporary Iraq.
  • Samuel Peleg (Israel), senior lecturer of international relations at Tel Aviv University, Israel. Expert on conflict resolution, political violence and terrorism. Close advisor of the initiator of the Geneva peace proposal. Author of Spreading the Wrath of God (Red Line 1997)
  • Harish K. Puri (India), Professor Emeritus of Political Science at Guru Nanak Dev University, India. Expert in ethnic and religious conflict and violence, human rights and terrorism, especially in India. Co-author of Terrorism in Punjab: Understanding Grassroots Reality (Har Anand 1999).
  • Ian Reader (UK), professor of religious studies at Lancaster University. Expert in Japanese religion as well as the relationship of religious movements and violence generally. Author of Religious Violence in Contemporary Japan: The Case of Aum Shinrikyo (University of Hawaii Press 2000).
  • David Rosen (Israel), former Chief Rabbi of Ireland and director of the American Jewish Committee’s Interreligious Affairs department. Founder of the Inter Faith Forum and the Council of Jews, Christians and Muslims. Served in numerous organisations for inter-faith dialogue.
  • Behzad Shahandeh (Iran), professor of political science at Tehran University. Vice-President at the Centre for Dialogue for Civilizations. Main research interests are East Asian and South East Asian studies, the Middle East, terrorism and development issues

With the collaboration ofSafe Democracy Foundation
Members of the Club de Madrid

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