“Pizza and Politics” Talks ISIS, Complexity of Conflict in the Middle East


(Photo by Chris Samuels)

(Photo by Chris Samuels)
(Photo by Chris Samuels)

Students were dished on the complexities of religion in conflicted areas Thursday at the Hinckley Institute’s “Pizza and Politics” lecture.
Amos N. Guiora, law professor and co-director of the Global Justice Center, and James Patton, executive vice president of the International Center of Religion and Diplomacy, discussed the topic of religion and conflict. The event was moderated by Jennifer Napier-Pearce, a reporter for The Salt Lake Tribune.
The discussion quickly turned to the areas of the Middle East affected by Islamic State of Iraq and Syria.
With a background in counter terrorism, Amos spoke out against ISIS.
“ISIS is the worst of the worst,” Amos said. “The brutality these guys show and the barbarism is extraordinary.”
Patton agreed.
“The ideological commitment that ISIS has quickly gets violent,” Patton said. “I used to think that these guys would burn out because they were so violent, but they have swept across the Middle East so quickly that communities never had a chance to react.”
Both men had strong opinions on engagement in areas of high conflict and agreed dialogue is critical to finding a resolution.
“We need to engage in people’s disgust,” Patton said.
Amos added, “In Iraq and Syria, that is near impossible right now. This is not just a United States issue. Western Europe and Arab countries need to be active and their voices heard. We must engage the Middle East.”
Patton added his opinion about Islam.
“Islam is not violent, but there are people who do not understand how they can defend their faith without joining ISIS,” Patton said.
Sara Adams, a junior in international studies, said she has been looking forward to this event since it was announced in her sociology class.
“I am very interested in the Middle East,” Adams said. “For me, I would love to work for the United Nations or some sort of foreign embassy, but understanding how much religion ties into the culture I am in would be so beneficial.”
For some students, such as Carly Smith, a junior in family consumer science, the discussion served as class credit.
“I am learning how fundamental religion is to someone’s life choices,” Smith said, “I guess I never realized how violent someone could be in the name of politics.”
Richard Jackson, sophomore in history and religious studies, also received extra credit for attending.
“My whole life I have always seen and heard about conflict in the Middle East,” Jackson said. “As an active citizen, I think it’s important to realize that the reasons behind these conflicts may not be black and white and educate ourselves to really know about our world.”
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