Bosnia event touches on religious violence in light of WWI

Speakers at the Oasis Foundation conference in Sarajevo, Bosnia June 16, 2014 Credit: Elise Harris/CNA.

International leaders within the Catholic Church have gathered in Sarajevo, Bosnia to discuss the consequences of the First World War, particularly its effect on terrorism and religious violence.

Convened by the Oasis foundation, an international organization seeking to foster greater dialogue between Christian and Muslim communities, the June 16-17 conference holds the theme of “The Temptation of Violence: Religions between War and Reconciliation.”

Commemorating the hundred year anniversary of the beginning of WWI in 1914, the conference is being held in Sarajevo as a reminder of where the war officially began with the assassination of the Austrian Archduke Francis Ferdinand and his wife Sofia.

Although focusing on current instances of inter-religious violence, the conference will serve as a re-reading of the consequences of WWI, which served as a monumental event not only for Europe, but also for the Islamic world.

Bringing about the end of the Ottoman caliphate, an Islamic state led by a supreme religious and political leader referred to as a caliph, the First World War also brought about the birth of political Islam, Arab nationalism, the strategic centrality of oil and the first genocides.

In light of this perspective, participants will explore the nature and challenges of war with an eye to transform conflict into peaceful dialogue.

An important point of reflection will be on how the period inaugurated by the WWI became characterized by contradiction, first looking to how there was a calling into question of war in a radical way that had since been unknown at a religious and secular level.

On the other hand, participants will discuss how it was an age when the great genocides began and when the classic understanding of war was gradually replaced by terrorism.

Regarding the topic of religious violence, conference attendees will discuss how despite the fact that religion was not a strong factor in WWI, it eventually led to later conflict amongst minorities, such as with Jihadism in the Middle East and in Africa.

They will also discuss how religiously motivated violence has now generated suspicion of the faiths in West, particularly of the monotheistic faiths who are accused of being inherently violent and intolerant.

A final point conference attendees will speak of the war in Bosnia, which lasted from 1992-1995, and which also fueled by both ethnic and religious dimensions.


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