The Western world may not hear this too often, but nothing in Islam justifies terrorism, a scholar on the Middle East said Thursday night.

“The root of terrorism — it doesn’t have anything to do with Islam,” Medhi Noorbaksh told a gathering of about 60 people in the Forest Resources Building. “ … Terrorism in any shape is to be condemned.”

Noorbaksh, an associate professor of international affairs at Harrisburg University, appeared here as part of the “Peace, not Prejudice” seminar series. Put together by the Penn State Muslim Student Association, the series is a reaction to “Islamo- Fascism Awareness Week.”

That national theme week of events, inspired by conservative activist David Horowitz, brought former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum to campus on Tuesday.

Santorum issued warnings against radicalized Islam, saying that most Americans don’t fully understand the threat. He also drew distinctions between Judeo- Christian culture and Islam in general, and painted the latter as a religion built more on control and dominance.

Noorbaksh, an expert in Middle Eastern politics and its intersection with Islam, offered a dramatically different presentation.

He underscored the religion’s past in education, capitalism, consensus-building and equity.

In fact, the faith promotes respect for diversity, including religious diversity, he said, quoting from Muslim texts.

“Muslims are obliged. … You have to respect people of other faith,” Noorbaksh said.

Radical elements in Muslim countries — such as those that promote female genital mutilation or ban women from driving — do not stem from the religion itself, Noorbaksh said. (MORE)


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