Inter-religious discussions not enough to tackle violence

The report on April 28 ('Concerted strategy needed to deal with radicalisation') is a recognition that there are multiple causes behind radicalisation and that a concerted effort must be undertaken to address the problem.

With the rise of terrorist acts and the threat of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, it must be acknowledged that religion continues to be exploited to justify violence and war. This is done by those who attack as well as those who defend.

History is littered with the loss of lives and property in resolving conflicts. Nevertheless, we believe that no credible religion promotes violence and all propagate peace and harmony.

We may need to engage in comparative religious studies to correct the misinterpretations of sacred texts and beliefs.

But we must coordinate our teaching to elevate positive moral values and ethical principles.

Religion is not the only cause of conflict. There are numerous secular issues that we face. Among them are illiteracy, ignorance, injustice and inequality. These are important components of the root causes of radicalisation that require our attention.

Both religious and secular approaches are necessary to avoid violence and war.

It is through this joint effort that we can hope to live in peace with one another. Permanent peace can be achieved only when there is peace with justice.

Inter-religious dialogue alone on matters of doctrine and ritual is inadequate.

Rev Dr Yap Kim Hao

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 29, 2017, with the headline 'Inter-religious discussions not enough to tackle violence'. Print Edition | Subscribe