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Duke interfaith conference tackles torture

Posted March 25, 2011 5:07 p.m. EDT
Updated March 25, 2011 6:55 p.m. EDT

 Duke University

— Theologians and human rights experts will discuss the use of torture in the United States and abroad during a conference at Duke University’s Divinity School this weekend.

Those speaking at the interfaith conference believe torture is still endorsed by the United States government. They will all stress the same basic theme that torture is wrong.

“This is not an academic debate but part of a national effort toward a moral consensus: torture is always wrong, torture does not make ‘us’ safer, and we need concrete tactics to refuse the climate of fear and compliance,” conference coordinator and Duke associate professor Amy Laura Hall said in a press release.

Speakers at the conference say they will present information on unreported cases of human torture. 

Duke's Muslim Chaplain Abdullah Antepli, who will speak at the conference, believes the world should follow the ideals of Martin Luther King Jr.

“In response to 9-11, I think there has been an intended shying away from these fundamental ideals,” he said.

Antepli, who is an associate professor at Duke, said torture is never acceptable and the ends never justify the means.

Some Americans believe interrogation techniques like waterboarding are essential for intelligence gathering to keep the country safe. President Barack Obama has said that waterboarding, which produces the same sensation as drowning, is "torture" and has prohibited the use of such enhanced interrogation techniques. 

Antepli said the world expects the United States to have a more moral treatment of enemies and hopes that message is clear during this conference and beyond.

“Torture dehumanizes both victim and perpetrator; and it ultimately renders the nation that practices it morally damaged, less secure, and less human than before," Hall said. 

Speakers will cover topics including torture in U.S. prisons.