Qatar Reiterates Rejection of Violent Extremism and Support for Efforts to Eradicate it

New York /  03 June 2016/ HE Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani has reiterated Qatar's stance in terms of rejecting all forms of violent extremism, and supporting efforts of the international community to uproot this phenomenon, as well as the state's belief that extremism poses a serious challenge for all societies, with youths and children paying a hefty price for it.

HE the minister made the remarks during the High Level Thematic Conversation on Children and Youth Affected by Violent Extremism, which was held at the U.N. headquarters.

HE Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani said eradicate this global phenomenon requires a collective commitment and a long-term strategy to deal with the circumstances leading to it before they are exploited by terrorist organizations, while taking into account the particular circumstances of each environment in which extremism arises.

He added that extremism is not an outcome of a particular religion but rather results from social, economic and political distortion that produces groups that interpret religion in such a way and handle terrorism as a religious matter in order to achieve special goals that do not serve, but rather undermine, the efforts of the international community in fighting this phenomenon.

HE the foreign minister reaffirmed Qatar's rejection of any attempt to single out a religion of race and accuse it of violent extremism and terrorism. He noted that attempting to exploit individual incidents of violence in order to link extremism to a particular religion foils efforts to address the real reasons behind extremism, adding that abusing religious symbols constitutes a pretext for extremists to recruit more supporters of their ideology.

HE the minister underlined the role of religious figures who preach tolerance and humanitarian values as well as the role of civil society organizations and intellectuals in spreading a spirit of forgiveness and tolerance, and searching for compromises rather than imposing opinions on others.

During his speech, Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani referenced the story of Ahmed, a 25-year-old young man, who was He was the subject of harassment in his younger years from his peers because of his religion, so he became ill-mannered and unable to hold a discussion, prompting his school principal to report to the police that the young man's friends are afraid of his extremist behavior.

Ahmed could feel the society's discrimination against him and how his friends labeled him "terrorist" until he found himself among a group of extremist youths who convinced him of travelling to a certain country to join one of the violent terrorist groups, HE the minister said, adding that the police summoned Ahmed again for further investigation and referred him to one of the centers that hold dialogue meetings aimed at dissuading young people from joining these organizations. After that, Ahmed said that without these meetings, he would have been in Iraq or Syria in search of "revenge." HE Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani said this is not a fictional story but rather a true one that a young man has been through in the same manner that hundreds of other youths experienced and whose societies were close to be the reason for the to fall of these youths into the clutches of extremism as a result of ignoring the roots of their problems, including racism and marginalization.

HE Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani noted though similar cases to Ahmed remain the exception for Muslim youths in the West because the state there possesses several mechanisms to prevent the aggravation of anger and gives the youths a relative freedom to express themselves as well as the legal and social tools to address their problems.

If that was Ahmed's situation in a Western and developed country, HE the minister said as he urged the audience to imagine how it would be like for youths who have prospects blocked in their faces and are prevented from expressing themselves, get subjected to humiliation and jail, and go through the experience of torture in the prisons of dictatorship states.

HE the minister pointed to the aspiration of youths to find a meaning to their lives and to express themselves, noting that dictatorships simply prevent them from that, which when added to unemployment, the blockage of prospects and facing any protest against this with violence, the result becomes that the accumulated anger turns into violence, and there are religious and non-religious political forces that are on the lookout to attract the angry youths to their ranks.

In this regard, HE the minister said "what is going on in our region in terms of sabotage, destruction, killing, displacement and denial of rights feeds extremism and provides pretexts to influence youths," adding that the result is that they lose hope and trust in the ability of the international society to resolve conflicts and settle disputes. "Has not the time come put an end to violations and policies aimed at people demanding freedom and human dignity?" HE the foreign minister questioned.

Meanwhile, HE the minister said despite the numerous crises in the region, Palestine remains the core issue that can't be ignored because the existence of occupation and the continuing repressive practices against the Palestinian people, including children and youths, accumulate anger across the region as a result of feeling injustice, and that is despite the fact that the Palestinian people themselves led an organized struggle for liberation that raised the values of equality, coexistence and just peace.

In his address, HE the minister reiterated Qatar's stance that ending the Israeli occupation of Palestinian and Arab territories, freezing settlement activity, dismantling settlements, respecting the legal status of Jerusalem, and achieving the two-state solution will reflect positively on the peoples of the region, liberate children and youths from fear and despair, eliminate one of the main causes of extremism in the region, and give these children and youths hope in a secure future.

Realizing that youths are the human fuel used by extremist groups to achieve their goals, HE the foreign minister said, Qatar has warned of the danger of neglecting the role of youths and not providing them with the healthy environment to develop their capacities and be part of drawing their own future.

He added that suitable opportunities should be introduced to benefit from the capacities and abilities of youths who had a leading role down the history in building their homelands. "They are the source of their [homelands'] strength, the makers of their glory, the valve to their life, and the address of their future, and the fate of every nation relies on its youths," HE the foreign minister said.

In his address during the High Level Thematic Conversation on Children and Youth Affected by Violent Extremism, HE Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani considered that protecting youths from extremism should be a priority for the international society, which, he noted, can't be attained without providing them with opportunities to draw their future in a way that ensures a decent livelihood for them In order to achieve the objective of combating violent extremism, HE the minister said, Qatar has adopted a strategy that instills a spirit of tolerance and constructive dialogue, and openness to others at the national and international levels, adding that it was one of the founders of the Global Community Engagement and Resilience Fund (GCERF), and is one of the major contributors to this fund, which pays special attention to the protection of young people from the ideologies and schemes of extremist and violent groups.

HE the foreign minister stressed that Qatar has supported dialogue of civilizations and coexistence among the different faiths and cultures, and established towards that end national institutions to spread the culture of dialogue, tackling extremism, and rejecting violence.

One of these entities, HE the minister said, is the Doha International Center for Interfaith Dialogue, which enhanced the exerted efforts to combat extremism and hatred and extend bridges of cooperation and understanding between followers of religions, civilizations and cultures.

Qatar also established Hamad bin Khalifa Civilization Center in Copenhagen in 2014, which deepens the understanding of the Islamic faith, supports international efforts to combat extremism, and promotes peaceful coexistence and love among religions, cultures and peoples, HE the minister said.

Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani added that Qatar believes in the role of education in turning regional wars into peace and the region's problems into harmony, especially in communities that suffer injustice, oppression, and armed conflicts, noting that educated young people and children are more aware and capable of confronting extremist ideas and protecting themselves and their communities from their risks.

HE the foreign minister said that this fact raises questions about the fate of children and young people inside and outside Syria who were deprived of education, constituting a shattered generation that threatens of a lost state controlled by terrorist groups.

HE Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani pointed out that Qatar was keen to protect Syrian children and young people, and has allocated, in the previous years, significant financial resources to provide education in the areas of asylum and displacement for children and youths who do not attend school in order to ensure that they get the proper education. He also added that Qatar has worked closely to implement important programs in this regard with the relevant international organizations.

As important as the efforts exerted by Qatar and other countries are, HE the foreign minister said, they are not enough to put an end to the suffering of Syrian children and youths and protecting them from extremism, calling for the need to reach a political solution for the Syrian crisis that achieves the legitimate demands of the Syrian people and preserves the unity and sovereignty of Syria. He noted that Qatar continues to offer all kinds of humanitarian support for the Syrian people directly and through regional and international organizations and in line with the international law and international humanitarian law.

HE Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani said that tackling and uprooting violent extremism depends also on building solid and effective partnerships that involve governments, civil society, the private sector, the United Nations system, and communities. In light of the importance of such partnerships, HE the minister said, "I'm pleased to announce the State of Qatar's support for the partnership between Silatech Foundation in Qatar, which is present today with us, and the Counter-Terrorism Implementation Task Force of the United Nations to implement a joint venture" whose main goal is the protection of young people from extremism and strengthening their abilities, based on Silatech's role in the Arab region.

HE the foreign minister called for thinking about the fates of young people not only from the angle of terrorism and the threat of terrorism, but also in terms of the importance of the human being as a human being, and being concerned about their problems, how they think of the society and the state, and what they want, "not just what we think, and what we want" so that we can create a basis for a useful dialogue.