Religious Freedom and Religious Extremism in the Aftermath of 9/11
As the country marked the 10-year anniversary of the terrorist attacks of September 11, Americans continued to question what could have been done to prevent such devastation. While some focused on lapses in our intelligence capabilities and problems of inter-agency communication, few looked at the presence of religious freedom as an antidote to the development, or at least the dominance, of violence-based religious ideologies. Would history be different had Osama bin Laden been raised in a Saudi Arabia with religious freedom? What if, instead of being steeped exclusively in the intolerant teachings of Wahhabism and Sayyid Qutb, bin Laden had also been exposed to other forms of Islam, to critics of Islam, to other forms of religious belief, and to liberal religion-based arguments about justice and the common good? In the following essays, scholars from the Religious Freedom Project probe the relationship between religious freedom and religious extremism from a variety of angles.