Hey Albert,

sorry for answering a little bit late, but I had some stuff to do for my
thesis.

So here is my opinion:

First of all, I believe we have to distinguish between various forms of
terrorism when we try to incorporate terms like tolerance and understanding
into a discussion about terrorists and their characteristics.
As I have learned throughout my undergraduate and graduate years, terrorism
can take on different forms making it necessary to analyze and frame it
accordingly. When we look at national terrorism or state terrorism for
instance, we might have to abandon the perspective that terrorists are
irrational crazies. When we look at terrorism emerging after the
de-colonization period, i.e. in the 60s and 70s in Asia – but also for the
radical left terrorist groups in Italy and Germany in the 70s and 80s, we
can quite easily come to the conclusion that these terrorist act out of
their own interest. They strive to accomplish their goals through a
technique called terrorism. I would highly doubt that a society has any
chance but none to prevent terrorist groups as these to appear on the scene.
While de-colonization terrorist groups acted because of national pride
against foreign occupiers (what western society also termed as “freedom
fighters”), national terrorist such as the RAF in Germany or the Red Brigade
in Italy, simply had different – of course radical, extremist – views on how
a society should be run politically. Neither education – which by the way
was stated relatively high among the national terror groups (they were
pretty much al students) – nor a stable political infrastructure can prevent
such groups from emerging.

Religious terrorism has to be seen in a completely different light. I will
mark three reasons framing this argument.
First, religious extremist are motivated by completely different ideals,
norms and values as the society has inherent. Hence, there is no basis for
being tolerant in the first place since the reasons differ.
Second, religion is immanent, meaning that it is a state of mind which has
nothing to do with rationality or reflection. If somebody is fundamentally
religious, it means that his life cycle is based on this principle. In the
end, this means that the radical element might have to be tackled, but not
the religious one.
Third, religious extremist are most of the time highly nationalistic,
meaning that they are tremendously endemic. Therefore, outside attempts to
change their society for the better good might not be at all in their simple
interest. This makes it sometimes extremely difficult to fight terrorism at
the grass-roots level, as can be seen in Afghanistan (where aboriginals
weigh more value to a cow than for instance to a new cell phone) or also
Egypt (where the Muslim brotherhood has their own perspective on how a
society has to look like).

From these concerns, I would like to stress two – although humble – opinions
on how I believe tolerance can still be shown by western societies (and I
mainly speak of the US and German society):

First, respecting the sovereignty and national independence of each state
affected by terrorism (whether they bear terrorist groups or just suffering
from them) is an important first step. Actively and aggressively trying to
implement western thoughts, values and norms into a society in order to
“make them think like we do” can not be considered to be effective.
Fundamental extremists are highly sensitive to things like that, trying to
take advantage of every imperialism action undertaken by western societies
in order to strengthen their own position.
I believe the Cairo-speech of President Obama is a good example of how such
a step might look like. Winning the sympathy of a country, making the
society to believe that there are options for you can be truly promising.

Second, implementing organizations from other countries into our own society
can help to push the transatlantic dialogue on a lower level forward. I can
think of the Islamic Conference in Germany, were representatives of
Christian, Catholic and Islamic come together and discuss issues of societal
importance, whether they happen in our country or in any other country of
the world. This can also help to motivate people from other societies to be
curious about our own country.

Of course, those are really small steps and I particular emphasized a more
sociological solution than a political one. Maybe this can keep your
discussion flourishing.

Best
Gordon!