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Harnessing power of women, young people key to combating terrorism, extremism — scholars

By Mohammad Ghazal - Mar 14,2015 - Last updated at Mar 14,2015

AMMAN — Fighting terrorism and extremist ideologies starts with giving women and young people in the region their rightful place in the community, Muslim scholars and opinion leaders said Saturday.

Denouncing extremism and terrorist ideologies as having nothing to do with Islam is not enough as actions on the ground are needed to stand up to this phenomenon, which primarily harms Muslims whether in their countries or residing in the West, they said during the International Conference on “Role of Moderation in Confronting Terrorism for Accomplishing Global Peace and Stability”.

“Preaching and telling youths what is right and what is wrong is not enough. We need to go to the streets and listen to their concerns and address them; otherwise, we will not succeed in fighting extremist ideologies that seek to lure young people,” Abdelfattah Mourou, the deputy head of Tunisia’s Ennahdha Party, said at the opening of the two-day conference.

“If you want to fight terrorism, give young people the hope they need, involve them in life,” he said.

“If you want to fight terror, get women out of the kitchens to assume their pivotal role in raising awareness, and educating and raising generations,” Mourou said in a speech at the event, held by the International Forum for Moderation with the attendance of hundreds of scholars, intellectuals, politicians and Muslim and Christian religious leaders from 26 countries.

“Women are educated and have their powers. Give them the chance to lead and they will change the current conditions,” he added. 

“Repeated condemnation of terrorism is not enough and shows our weakness. We need real actions.”

Ali Al Qura Daghi, secretary general of the International Union of Muslim Scholars that groups more than 95,000 scholars, said the way to fight terrorism and extremist ideologies is through standing up to narrow-mindedness and exclusion of others.

“We are at a very critical stage during which we need to address... improper religious teachings and promoting the noble values of Islam,” he noted.

The scholar, who stressed moderation as key to fighting terrorism, said there is a dire need to change the way of religious preaching to address young people in a language they understand and that is closer to them.

“Youths are the main engines of the entire nation. Their powers should be used to build the nation. We should not let them be brainwashed and use their powers to destruct our nation,” he said.

Addressing the participants, Marwan Faouri, the secretary general of the International Forum for Moderation, said moderation is the key to peace and stability in the region.

“All Muslims and Arabs are targeted by terrorism. All sects and ethnic groups are targeted by terrorism, which has no religion and seeks to defame Islam,” Faouri noted.

“We condemn the terrorist movements’ acts of killing, slaughtering and all types of violence. Terrorism is the main danger facing the entire nation in decades,” he added.

Participants at the event are expected to come up with recommendations on measures and plans to confront terrorism and shed light on the true image of Islam, Faouri said.

Discussions at the forum are focusing on the role of moderation in fighting terrorism, defining terrorism, the role of religious centres in fighting terrorism, origins of terrorism and extremism, and the role of women in fighting extremism, among others.

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