At several of the Davos meetings, speakers debated the consequences of the rise of political Islam across the Middle East as a result of the Arab Spring. Is there something in Islam that is antithetical to liberal values? Definitely not, insisted former Arab League secretary-general Amr Moussa and Turkish foreign minister Ahmet Davutoglu; these are distortions of Islam.
Mohammed Ashmawey, head of an Islamic charity, argued that faith-based charities were behind much of the health care system in his native Egypt.
He drew support from Rabbi David Saperstein, a Reform Jewish leader from the United States, who acknowledged that religion was a force for bad as well as good.
On balance though, he said it was ‘‘immensely positive.’’
Sania Nishtar, a Pakistani health care activist, almost jumped out of her seat.
‘‘The interplay of religion and politics is very exploitative,’’ she said.
She argued that religion was behind the absence of family planning in much of the developing world and that clerical objections were raised against even vaccinations.
Like much of the discussions at Davos, this one yielded mostly an agreement to disagree.
Krauss, a militant secularist, said he was open to tweaking his views.
If the stars realigned in the night sky to spell out the words ‘‘I am here,’’ Krauss said he would reassess.
AP Religion Writer Rachel Zoll reported from New York.
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