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Current “Muslim-West clash” not the real clash, author says

March 10, 2009

Ever since 9-11, the phrase “clash of civilizations” has been bandied about in the press and in gatherings of people, conjuring up images of a clash between a “Muslim monolith bent on violence, and the democratic cultures of Europe and North America.”

Martha Nussbaum, a professor at the University of Chicago, disagrees that such a clash is the most worrisome possibility in the world today.

Instead, she writes in her book “The Clash Within: Democracy, Religious Violence, and India’s Future,” that the real clash “is not a civilizational one between “Islam’ and ‘the West,’ but instead a clash within virtually all modern nations – between people who are prepared to live with others who are different, on term of equal respect, and those who seek the protection of homogeneity, achieved through the domination of a single religious and ethnic tradition.”

Nussbaum, the Ernst Freund Distinguished Service Professor of Law and Ethics at the University of Chicago, will discuss this idea in a free lecture, titled ”The Clash Within: Religion, Pluralism, and the Future of Democracy,” at 4:30 p.m., March 31 in the Great Hall at Armstrong Hall.

The free lecture is sponsored by the Center for the Study of Religion and Conflict. It is part of the “Religion and Conflict: Alternative Visions” lecture series.

Nussbaum, who teaches in the areas of law, ethics, political science, the classics and comparative literature, also is a prolific writer. Her most recent book is “Liberty of Conscience: In Defense of American’s Tradition of Religious Equality.”

For more information about the lecture, and the Center for the Study of Religion and Conflict, contact Carolyn Forbes, (480) 965-1096, or