The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

Professor to discuss religious violence

The Haas lecture series will look at religious violence in the Middle East in the third lecture of the 2009 series.

Charlene Burns, an associate professor of religious studies, will lead the discussion titled “Religions, Cultures, and Violence in the Middle East” at 1 p.m. Sunday at Grace Lutheran Church, 202 W. Grand Ave.

Burns recently traveled to Egypt and Qatar in May to participate in an exchange program between the United States and the Middle East.

As a member of the six-person American delegation, she participated in numerous discussions about the violence issue with scholars of Islamic Sharia Law, as well as members of the Egyptian Jewish and Roman Catholic faiths. Using her experiences abroad, her discussion will demonstrate theories about the causes of the ongoing religious battles.

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Although religious violence is not a new topic, Burns said within recent decades the number of people participating in it has drastically increased. What makes the issue especially important now is that weapons of mass destruction can be used.

“For the first time in human history,” Burns said, “one religious radical with the right equipment could kill hundreds of thousands of people.”

While abroad, Burns said the solutions proposed were different amongst the various groups she spoke with.

Sharia (religious) Law is the foundation for government in Qatar, whereas religious leadership plays a consultative role for the government in Egypt, Burns said. The Egyptian government still sees religious ideas as important but is not bound to rule according to the opinions issued by the Grand Mufti of Egypt.

“Generally, the Muslims I spoke with in Egypt and in Qatar agreed that the problem lies within individuals as much as in groups,” Burns said.

Burns also appeared on Nile TV, a live talk show in Cairo, Egypt, to discuss religious violence. She described the experience as incredible and said she was faced with challenging and interesting questions. She sensed an eagerness from the viewers to explore the issues at hand.

Regarding possible solutions to the violence present, Burns said, “The first step is for each of us to honestly examine our own beliefs and claims about uses of violence and ask how that fits with what we claim to be true about God, or the Buddha or Allah.”

Senior Danny Cheever, a Social Studies Education major, said it is important as college students to be aware of global issues such as this.

“Whether we believe it or not, this is something that affects us, too,” Cheever said. “Learning how other religions view the issue can only help us

work towards a solution. I’m excited to hear what Dr. Burns learned in her discussions.”

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Professor to discuss religious violence