Al-Ahram, October 22, 1999

[Note, Al-Ahram (The Pyramids) is one of Cairo's two top newspapers, with about one million readers.]

Exploitation of religion in international relations is not new in human history. Whether created by man or inspired by God [the so-called "heavenly religions" considered by Muslims to be Judaism, Christianity and Islam], religions have been the basis of many of the world's alliances, wars and international organizations.

A recent development in human history is dialogue between the three heavenly religions and cooperation among their representatives in order to gain a better understanding of the beliefs of the others. This phenomena indicates that despite the separation of politics, society and religion imposed by the prevailing secularism of the west, religion still has its influence over both individuals and communities alike. Based on accepting the beliefs of others, this phenomena expresses a new dimension of safe-guarding the cultural and behavioral privacy of different human societies.

In intellectual meetings as well as political life, conflicts arise between efforts seeking to prove the existence of this privacy and the efforts of certain powers to impose a specific behavioral pattern, based on a set of values, in one of the fields of human interaction.

The first report issued by the U.S. Department of State (titled "The international religious freedom for 1999") is an example of the political-cultural conflict between the United States versus the rest of the world. This report is based on the Freedom from Religious Persecution Act issued in October 1999.

In the introduction of this law, the American Congress expressed its concern for religious freedom, mentioning that the United States from ...

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