Religion in the Warzone: Driver of conflict, force of peace?

Speakers: Nasir Butrous
Denis Dragovic
Rauhan Ismail
Jonathan Spencer


Religious communities see their religion as peaceful and its institutions, beliefs and rituals as serving an important space of healing and consolation. However, many of today's armed conflicts have a religious component. Religious leaders may be perceived to reinforce boundaries and fuel contention, but at the same time, some are able to bridge these gaps and play a unique brokering role as respected, apolitical authority figures.

How do we understand these contradictions? Does religion itself make a difference and, if so, what does this mean for international players intervening in war-torn contexts? Are we missing something when we conceptualise conflict mediation, state-building or peace-building without taking religion into account? Can peace-oriented forms of religious agency be strengthened, or does foreign support undermine what is perhaps their main resource: the legitimacy of being and perceived as locally grounded and apolitical?