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Tuesday, August 21, 2007

We all act as if Islam is a monolithic religion and that all Muslims live in the Middle East

Albright: Well, I think it's a very hard term, fundamentalism, as you're obviously finding. Historically, it's a term that described Christians who believed that everything that was in the Bible was exactly so. But now it's been used to describe everybody in the three Abrahamic religions who is conservative or reactionary. One of the things that I found in writing my book [was] that fundamentalism was a term that I was having trouble with. Because it has gotten ascribed to it a lot of negative associations...
Albright: Definitely. I am not a theologian, and I have not turned into a religious mystic, but I am a practical problem solver. So I'm looking at religion from the perspective of how knowledge about what people believe in can be useful in terms of trying to resolve the most serious disputes.
I think one of the major problems is that here in the United States, particularly, there is very little understanding of Islam. We all act as if Islam is a monolithic religion and that all Muslims live in the Middle East. The bottom line is most Muslims in the world don't live in the Middle East. They live in Indonesia, or Malaysia, or India, um, Pakistan. Second, there are a number of different sects within Islam. Now I think more people understand the difference between Shia and Sunni, but that is just the beginning. We really do not know anything about it. cnn.com

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