Sunday, February 26, 2012

Diverse Effects of the Power of the Book

The violent reaction to burning of Koran texts in Afghanistan seems to be exacerbating an already delicate situation as foreign nations draw down troops. The unfolding tragic events poignantly demonstrate the symbolic power of religious texts. Fortunately, the power can work to positive effect as well.
Coincidentally, other stories about religious books made the news recently. In 2009, a 1000-year-old copy of the Koran was discovered in Dongxiang, of northwest Gansu province of China. Recently, officials from Dongxiang indicated that construction would start this year on a modern museum to house and preserve the ancient book.
Turkey recently recovered a 1500-year-old Bible in the Mediterranean from smugglers, who were also charged with looting and trafficking in antiquities. Reportedly, the Vatican has requested to view the Bible. Perhaps the interest, in part, stems from the rumor that the book might be a copy of the Gospel of Barnabas.
The contrast of conflict over mistreatment of copies of the Koran and cooperation on preservation of a Koran illustrates a range of potential for religious texts to play a role in security. The cause and effect of recovering a Bible and engaging in a dialogue with the Vatican speaks to the influence of religious texts in diplomacy.
With religion as part of culture, each incident further develops the concept of cultural security.

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