The first shot of the War on Terrorism was fired less than two years into the third millennium—the Twin Towers attack on September 11, 2001, touching off the first religious war of the new century, indeed one of the few religious conflicts since Protestants and Catholics clashed in the Thirty Years' War that ended in 1648. Since then, there has been an uneasy truce between most of the world's religions. But throughout, faith in all its forms has hardly lost its most fundamental emotional, social, and cultural attributes. These have led at times to quarrels, even remarkable condominiums, between nations and peoples, across borders and continents.
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In this issue, World Policy Journal explores some of the foundations of faith, its fault lines, and the consequences of the use and abuse of religion. Defining our agenda is Olivier Roy, who heads the ReligioWest research project at Florence's European University Institute. Next, our Anatomy of Islamophobia dissects the hidden interconnections among Europe's anti-Muslim far-right. Poet and essayist Eliza Griswold provides an iambic perspective, drawing on her experiences in Libya. Our Map Room zooms in on the hajj, tracing it through the holy city of Mecca. We then turn to three fault lines of religion—where conflicting passions and agendas have opened up gulfs between religion and government—the Jews of Venezuela, Christians of China, and the Orthodox of Islamic Turkey. Next, we move to Latin America where the Catholic Church is struggling to cope with a new sexuality and spirit of freedom. Finally, we conclude our examination of faith in our Conversation with Lobsang Sangay, Tibetan Buddhism's new political leader, known as the Kalon Tripa—the first secular ruler of his people in four centuries.
For our Portfolio, we travel to Haiti to examine a little-appreciated consequence of the catastrophic earthquake that killed 316,000 and left over a million homeless. Les Stone documents how the power of Vodou has helped Haitians rebuild their nation and their lives. On the Indian subcontinent, Karl E. Meyer, editor emeritus of World Policy Journal, and Shareen Blair Brysac chronicle the diverse, coastal enclave of Kerala and examine how it derives its strength and its tranquility. In the Democractic Republic of Congo, Megan Camm examines the perils and violence of land ownership disputes in one bloody corner of the country, which serves as a sad model for broad swaths of Africa. From Paris, Stephen Hawking disciple Christophe Galfard examines the nexus of science and public perception. And in Hamburg, Deborah Steinborn warns Germany to hold onto its most talented and entrepreneurial gastarbeiter, or risk losing them. Which brings us to the Coda. Back from a five-week expedition through Russia, Mongolia, and China, World Policy Journal editor David A. Andelman discusses the challenges of small nations struggling to maintain their identity and prosperity trapped between large powers.
This issue of World Policy Journal kicks off the 50th anniversary of the founding of our parent World Policy Institute. We are marking our next half century by focusing attention on five core issues: water scarcity, world financial risk, migration, rethinking security priorities, and media and conflict. Our Spring 2012 issue will focus on the use and abuse of language and media, particularly their impact on democracy and human rights. Throughout the year, we will explore all five themes in these pages, on our blog (www.worldpolicy.org), and through research, policy papers, network building, programs, and events—not the least being our main anniversary celebration, World Policy Around the Table, on May 3, 2012. We invite readers to join us in rising to the challenges that these issues present to the world.
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