The Koran Desecration and the Role of Religion in Conflict

Published: 
March 20, 2012
By: 
Qamar-ul Huda

Qamar-ul Huda captures the key perspectives of a roundtable convened by the United States Institute of Peace which drew on the expertise of scholars, practitioners, U.S. government officials, and the policy community to discuss the implications of the burning of the Koran in Afghanistan in February, 2012.

Summary

  • The recent desecration of the Koran and Islamic writings caused violent unrest in Afghanistan and raises concerns about essential training in culture and religion for U.S. personnel.
  • Basic knowledge of religious actors and their roles in peacebuilding and conflict management is still barely factored in by policymakers and advisers to U.S. government.
  • There needs more effort by local, regional, and international religious leaders to promote nonviolent and tolerant reactions even in midst of incendiary events.
  • An assessment is needed to evaluate whether efforts at promoting inter-cultural sensitivity are working or not, and identifying processes for mitigating tensions. 

About this Brief

This Peace Brief is based in part upon a closed-door roundtable convened by the United States Institute of Peace which drew on the expertise of scholars, practitioners, U.S. government officials, and the policy community to discuss the implications of the burning of the Koran. The findings capture the key perspectives of the attendees but do not reflect any consensus position. They do not necessarily reflect the views of the United States Institute of Peace, which does not take policy positions. 

About the Author

Qamar-ul Huda is a Senior Program Officer in the Religion and Peacemaking Center and a scholar of Islam at U.S. Institute of Peace. His area of expertise is Islamic theology, intellectual history, ethics, comparative ethics, the language of violence, conflict resolution and non-violence in contemporary Islam. His edited USIP book, The Crescent and Dove: Peace and Conflict Resolution in Islam, provides a critical analysis of models of nonviolent strategies, peace building efforts, conflict resolution methods in Muslim communities. His research is on comparative Sunni-Shi’ite interpretations of social justice, ethics, dialogue, and the ways in which the notion of justice is used and appropriated.

March 20, 2012
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