In the wake of recent terrorist attacks in Europe and the U.S., Pacifica Institute organized a panel discussion among scholars, government officials and faith leaders in Portland on 18th April, 2016. Theme of the discussion was Struggles Against Global Terrorism and it was convened at local Pacifica venue here in Portland.
The panel was moderated by Professor Peter Bechtold, a distinguished scholar with vast experience and knowledge about Islamic world ranging from Morocco to Kazakhstan who trained U.S. foreign officials and currently teaches at Portland State’s Hatfield School of Government. FBI representatives were present at the discussion. Panelists were:
- Jihad Turk: President, Bayan Claremont Islamic Graduate School
- Rod Stafford: Lead Pastor, Mennonite Church of Portland
- Ron Silver: Former Assistant U.S. Attorney, Former Chief of Civil Division of U.S. Attorneys Office
Panel was opened with remarks of Lynne Lopez, a lead pastor of Ainsworth United Church of Christ who touched on the issue and reflected viewpoints of her community. The panel sparked delightful discussion and delivered extraordinary viewpoints from different angles of our complex global society. Jihad Turk stressed religions are unfortunately most often used out of their context when those who commit terror need to justify their violent actions. He provided examples from muslim world as well as non-muslim world such as historic conflicts in Northern Ireland and Basque nationalists. Pastor Stafford expressed concern of addressing terrorism with violence which he feared will bear more hatred. Instead he proposed that we should feed ourselves with love and that love can lead to peace. Lastly Mr Silver outlined various activities that U.S. Attorney’s office does in order to prevent young muslims being recruited into violent criminals like ISIS. He pointed that those who do are usually isolated and have varying issues with integration into society and/or families. Panel was adjourned by multiple questions and big applause from the audience.