.- Violence and tensions between the West and the Muslim world are not fueled by religion. Rather, they are fueled by fear, misunderstanding, economic disparities, wars by Western powers in Muslim countries, and the Arab-Israeli conflict, said U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan on Monday.
"We should start by reaffirming and demonstrating that the problem is not the Quran nor the Torah or the Bible," Annan reportedly said after receiving a report by an international group of scholars that proposes solutions. "The problem is never the faith; it is the faithful and how they behave toward each other."
Annan traveled to Istanbul to attend a meeting of the U.N.-backed "Alliance of Civilizations Initiative," which enabled a group of about 20 experts to draft a report on how to promote peace. The report was given to Annan and made public Monday.
Any broad solution to the problem must include an end to the Arab-Israeli conflict, he added, reported The Associated Press.
"As long as the Palestinians live under occupation, exposed to daily frustration and humiliation, and as long as Israelis are blown up in buses and in dance halls, so long will passions everywhere be inflamed," he was quoted as saying.
The claim that religion is not the root of international conflicts since Sept. 11, 2001, contradicts some theorists who believe cultural and religious identity is the main source of tension following the Cold War.