Muslim clerics and scholars must do more to denounce terrorism and its masterminds or risk allowing Islamic radicalism to spread, the president of Iraq urged at a conference Tuesday on Islam's global roles.
"It is incumbent on Muslim theologians, and all Muslim thinkers, to make sure these criminals have no peace and have no room," Jalal Talabani told a gathering of religious and political leaders examining ways to improve contacts between the West and Muslim nations.
But terrorism has dominated the agenda and showed the deep quandaries over how to wage an intellectual battle against al-Qaida and other radical groups. Talabani echoed the appeals of many moderate Muslims for sharper anti-terrorist condemnations from religious authorities, such as Sunni clerics who have influence in regions of Iraq considered strongholds of insurgents.
"Islamic leaders and philosophers must expose that they (the terrorist groups) are only trying to deceive their followers and they do nothing but destruction," said Talabani.
His comments came shortly after two attacks in Iraq targeting police: a car bomb blast in Baghdad that killed four police officers and gunfire in the northern city of Kirkuk that left four officers dead. U.S. and Iraqi forces, meanwhile, pressed ahead with an offensive against suspected insurgents near the Syrian border.
"A barbarous type of terrorism exists in Iraq that is being carried out by al-Qaida and the most fundamentalist terrorists," Talabani said. "Terrorism is a scourge that the world is suffering under ... It will grow if we don't act."
Talabani also challenged the widespread European opposition to the U.S.-led occupation of Iraq, saying that war was the only way to end the brutalities of Saddam Hussein's regime.
Earlier, Afghan President Hamid Karzai warned that the failure to defeat Taliban-led terrorism in his country could have wider consequences.
"There is no longer a corner of the world that doesn't affect another corner of the world. ... We must face our common challenges," he said.
The conference has sought to sidestep direct political squabbles despite some clear differences, including an Iranian delegation led by former President Mohammad Khatami and a U.S. presence directed by Daniel Fried, assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian affairs.
But Austrian Foreign Minister Ursula Plassnik made a diplomatic jab apparently aimed at Khatami's hard-line successor, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who last month said Israel should be "wiped off the map,” reports the AP. I.L.