Middle East Leaders at UN on Extremism
Top leaders from across the Middle East expressed their support for efforts to confront terrorism, in their addresses to the 71st session of the U.N. General Assembly. They emphasized the need for international cooperation and partnerships to defeat the urgent threat to international peace and security. Some called for addressing the roots of terrorism and circumstances that contribute to the promotion of radical ideologies. But the leaders also stressed that terrorism is not associated with any religion, highlighting Islam’s tolerance and moderation. The following are excerpts from their speeches.
Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al Thani
Sept. 20, 2016
Mr. President, the terrorism, which we face, remains a source of threat to our peoples, countries, economic and social achievements, which necessitates intensification of our efforts to combat it. We are all mindful that success in confronting this dangerous phenomenon is not easy, but it is not impossible when there is a political will to tackle the social roots of this abhorrent phenomenon, and understanding the circumstances that are contributive to promoting radical ideologies in an atmosphere of desperation and deadlocked vistas. In order to protect the youth who are being targeted by the extremist groups, the fight against terrorism must not be confined to the security dimension, which per se is essential, but must also go far beyond that to promote the values of tolerance, culture of plurality and dialogue, while taking into consideration the right of the peoples to resist occupation, which is a right that has been enshrined in the international laws, covenants and norms. For the education of the youth and mobilization of the communities against terrorism to gain credibility, we must be diligent in defining terrorism and standing against it. This definition must not be altered depending on the identity of the perpetrator or the victim or on account of a certain political interest. We saw cases when a certain organization had been branded as terrorist when it was a political foe, but later the same organization was embraced when it suddenly became a temporary ally. There must not be a discrimination between the lives of civilians whether in Istanbul or Gaza, New York or Aleppo, etc. There is no life that is more qualitatively valuable than another life. The double standards handling of this phenomenon or linking it to a certain faith or culture, or absolving governments who practice terrorism from being described as terrorist, would complicate the efforts to uproot the phenomena and reinforce the pretexts used by the terrorists. -8- In this context and proceeding from our policy that rejects radicalism and terrorism and which is based on our values, culture and the teachings of the true Islamic religion, we reiterate our support for the efforts exerted within the framework of the international legitimacy to eradicate and root out this phenomena.
King Abdullah II ibn al Hussein
Sept. 20, 2016
The question we must ask ourselves as we face this, the battle of our generation, is: what will our legacy be? Will we pass on to our children a world dominated by dread and division? Where safety and security will be at the forefront of their minds as they board a plane, attend a concert or football match, or stroll through a mall? Most important, are we doing what must be done to confront and decisively defeat this evil force, so that our children can live in a world where fear and suspicion are replaced by human camaraderie and hope, where they can reach their fullest potential and add to the stockpile of human achievement accrued over the ages? As much as I wish it were otherwise, sadly, the answer to that question is no. How can we be effective in this fight when we haven’t clearly defined who the enemy is? Who are we fighting with and who are we fighting against? I am struck, today, after several years facing the global war on terror, with the lack of understanding of the true nature of Islam that I find among many Western officials, think tanks, media leaders and policymakers, I find myself stating the obvious again and again: False perceptions of Islam and of Muslims will fuel the terrorists' agenda of a global struggle, by polarising and factionalising societies, East and West - each side stigmatising the other; each driven deeper into mistrust and intolerance. Muslims - a quarter of the world's population; citizens of every country - have a central role in the future of our planet. Muslim men and women bring to the world a rich heritage of civic responsibility, justice, generosity, family life, and faith in God. When others exclude Muslims from fulfilling their role, by prejudice or ignorance of what Islam is - or on the other hand, when the outlaws of Islam, the khawarej, attempt to mislead some Muslims, by deforming our religion through false teaching - our societies' future is put at risk. My friends, When the outlaws of Islam, the khawarej, murder; when they plunder; when they exploit children and reject the equality of women before God - they abuse Islam. When the khawarej persecute minorities; when they deny freedom of religion - they abuse Islam. Islam teaches that all humanity is equal in dignity. There is no distinction among different nations or regions or races. The Qur'an forbids coercion in religion. Every citizen is guaranteed the state's protection for their lives, families, properties, honour, privacy, and freedom of religion and thought. Muslims believe in the divine origin of the Bible and the Torah. God says in the Qur’an: “Say, we believe in God, and that which has been revealed to us, and that which has been revealed to Abraham and Ishmael, and Isaac and Jacob, and the Tribes; and in that which was given to Moses and Jesus, and the prophets, from their Lord; we make no division between any of them; and to him we submit”. [Aal ‘Imran, 3:84-85]
Indeed, in the Qur’an, the prophet mentioned most is Moses - named 136 times. Jesus, whom we call 'Christ Messiah', is named 25 times. His mother Mary, called the 'best of all women in creation', is named 35 times. And there is a chapter in the Qur’an called 'Maryam'. The khawarej deliberately hide these truths about Islam in order to drive Muslims and non-Muslims apart. We cannot allow this to happen.
Ladies and Gentlemen, Understanding that this is a battle we must fight together - all religions, and all of us who believe in the dignity, freedom and well-being that is the birthright of every individual - then we can turn toward our common enemy and examine through a clearer lens the unique nature of our foe. Let me state dearly that these radical outlaw groups do not exist on the fringes of Islam, they are altogether outside of it. Thus we refer to them as khawarej, outlaws of Islam. They declare the entire civilized world as the enemy, and all people, military or civillian, as 'fair game'. They aim to incubate satellite "caliphates" in every country in the world in order to extend their reach. They also expand fast and wide through their mastery and exploitation of modern technology and social media. To confront this non-traditional enemy we need non-traditional means - a new mindset, new partnerships, and reformed methodologies. For Muslims, first and foremost, this is a fight for our future. All elements of our community have a role: not only mosques and religious centres, but media, schools, and community leaders. Let no one be misled. Traditional Sunni Islam and all of its schools of jurisprudence, decisively reject the ideas and claims of takfiri jihadists. Muslims need to help identify and counter the outlaws of Islam who pick and choose, cut and paste religious texts, to twist and distort true Islamic teaching.
The international community, also, faces a fight for the future. The war will not be fought on the battlefield alone. Our adversary has put the fight in every place where humans live and interact: airports, cafes, city streets. Security cooperation is imperative – but equally important is a holistic approach. We need to open up new channels between continents and nations; within countries; and among people.
This means reforming the way we communicate, share information, and use our technologies. The very same modem communication tools used against us must be employed for us, and we can do this while respecting the important issue of privacy. Creative innovators in the private sector, especially in the technology sector, are vital to the future and must be brought on board.
Ours is a global fight. The focus must not stop with the Middle East, but reach far beyond - in West and East Africa, m South East Asia, and the Balkans.
In Syria, a military approach will leave no winners, only losers on every side, and further civilian suffering. An end to violence ultimately demands a political process, one shepherded by a unified global vision and led by all components of the Syrian people. In Iraq, international support remains critical as the government and people continue to uproot the khawarej. However, key to achieving and sustaining any success is an inclusive approach engaging all components of the country in the political process and in state institutions.
President Abdel Fattah Al Sisi
Sept. 20, 2016
The bloodletting in Syria and the absence of any prospects on the horizon are no longer acceptable. What is necessary is clear: an immediate and comprehensive halt to all hostile acts across all of Syria, paving the way for a political solution that ends the bloodshed and preserves the territorial integrity and security of Syria and its state institutions, as well as realizing the aspirations of the Syrians, and putting an end to the chaos that has only served to facilitate the spread of terrorism. In this regard, we welcome the latest agreement for cessation of hostilities that was reached as a result of commendable efforts exerted by Russia and the United States, and we aspire towards swift and serious international action to resume negotiations as soon as possible, in order to reach a comprehensive settlement to the crisis.
Mr. President, the phenomenon of terrorism, and the hostility towards the right to life it represents, has become an urgent threat to international peace and security. Terrorism constitutes a threat to the entity of the state, in favor of an extremist ideology that utilizes religion as a veil from behind which to conduct monstrous acts and menace the destinies of peoples. This necessitates intensive regional and international cooperation. Egypt has always been keen to stress that the endeavor to defeat terrorism will never achieve its ends unless we address the roots of the phenomenon, confront terrorist groups with decisiveness, and refute the extremist ideologies that give birth to terrorism and its proponents. Egypt calls upon the international community to take all possible measures to prevent terrorism from exploiting advances in information technology, which have contributed to endowing the phenomena of terrorism and ideological extremism with dangerous new dimensions that have grained them global reach. It is essential to end the broadcasting of channels and the hosting of websites that incite violence and extremism.
In this regard, I would like to point out that the Constitution of The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), stated that "war begins in the minds of men" and thus that it is "in the minds of men that the defenses of peace must be constructed", i assert before you today that the cancer of our age is the terrorism that breeds the call for extremism and violence in the minds of people. Accordingly, it is our duty to instill in those very same minds the principles of tolerance and coexistence. If culture is the reflection of the principles by which mankind lives, then we must employ culture, technology, and knowledge for the benefit of development and peace. As such, I call on the United Nations to give greater attention to addressing the cultural aspects of development and peacemaking, and the elimination of destructive ideologies, including via access to knowledge, transfer of technology, and confronting extremist ideologies. This must be undertaken in partnership with UNSESCO, an organization the role of which has grown vastly in importance in today's world.
Crown Prince Mohammed bin Naif bin Abdulaziz al Saud
Sept. 21, 2016
Mr. President, The fight against the extremist speech and the ideologies that feds terrorism are , with no doubts, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia priorities. The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is the first country to take a step in addressing the phenomenon of extremism and terrorism thought and the activities of each at the local, regional and international levels.
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has adopted a basic principle in this regard that is not limited to the Security concerns only but includes the Ideological side of the matter. This plan based on facing a terrorist through a comprehensive and coherent plan that uprooting the intellectual roots and pillars of terrorism which helped in building this abnormality behaviors.
Senior scholars and intellectuals in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to the warning of the danger of deviant thought leading to terrorism, and issued the Board of Senior Ulema in the kingdom confirmed data which prohibit out to areas of conflict and edition as taboo and enter the circle of criminality, and described the instigators of the that the advocates of error must be tracked down and punished. We hope that the tendency of scholars and institutions and religious, intellectuals, and in the rest of the States as such and to issue the contribution to addressing the deviant thought whatever its source.
Prime Minister Sheikh Jaber al Mubarak al Hamad al Sabah
Sept. 21, 2016
As part of the international efforts to combat the phenomena of terrorism, extremism and acts of violence, which began to increase and form a new international reality, due to the continuing crises in the region lacking a permanent solution. It is therefore, incumbent upon us to recognize that combating this odious phenomenon is an international responsibility, and no one country by itself, no matter how much it tries, can confront or eliminate it. It is also morally impermissible to link this phenomenon to any nationality, religion or civilization. The State of Kuwait reiterates its principled and firm position, in condemning terrorist acts in all their forms and manifestations, as well as its total rejection of all acts of violence and extremism, that do not only contravene international laws and norms, but also the teachings of the true religion of Islam, and all other divine religions, in addition to cultural and human values. In this context, the State of Kuwait contributes effectively to terrorism, by providing support and backing to the international established to combat the so-called (Daesh) terrorist group in Iraq. combating coalition, In this respect we reiterate our position to stand by and support the Government of Iraq , and commend its achievements in combating terrorism, and facing up to ISIL(Daesh), and emphasize our support of the measures and actions it takes, to maintain the security, stability, and territorial integrity of Iraq.
President Mahmoud Abbas
Sept. 22, 2016
Mr. President, Ladies and Gentlemen, We continue our efforts to build the foundations of a culture of peace among our people. We stand against terrorism in all its forms and manifestations and we condemn it by whomever and wherever. Our region has been the largest victim of terrorism and has endured its wrath over many years. We support the unity of people and land and the achievement of political solutions for all of the conflicts in Syria, Libya, Iraq and elsewhere, and we support the efforts of the brotherly Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to strengthen the foundations of legitimacy in brotherly Yemen. We support the efforts to confront terrorism, extremism, sectarianism and violence, and appeal to stand united against terrorism, which knows no religion. In this context, I wish to reaffirm once again that there is no way to defeat terrorism and extremism and achieve security and stability in our region without ending the Israeli occupation of Palestine and ensuring the freedom and independence of the Palestinian people.
President of the Council of Ministers Tammam Salam
Sept. 22, 2016
Mr. President, Lebanon is still suffering from the dangers of terrorism, and is engaged in an open confrontation against it, for which it has paid dearly with the lives of military and civilian children. We declare our commitment to fight this scourge in all its facets and forms, and stress the importance of regional and international cooperation in fighting it. We consider that the isolationist tendency of the communities, behind dividing walls, and the unhealthy promotion of Islamophobia, targets an Islam that is being deceitfully brandished by terrorists to justify their crimes, but it is not a panacea to combat terrorism. It is rather a recipe for the emergence of violent, extremist and racist tendencies that have been rejected by advanced democracies a long time ago. Combating terrorism is a long term process that requires tremendous efforts at all levels. The condition for the successful elimination of this phenomenon lies in the quest to eradicate its roots and the contributing factor that fuel it, by addressing deprivation and injustice, which are incubators for extremism, and by meeting the legitimate demands of people for freedom, dignity and equality, and the rejection of all forms of violence and exclusion.
We appeal to everyone to exert sincere and effective efforts in the fight against obscurantist terrorism, we warn against the dangers of tampering with maps and demolishing existing entities, changing the demographic nature of the communities and threatening their social cohesion and religious diversity. We consider that the first prerequisite for the consolidation of stability and the removal of the hotbeds of extremism in the Middle East is to meet the just demands of the people to live independently and with dignity and freedom, and to find a just solution to the Palestinian cause.
Prime Minister Haider al Abadi
Sept. 22, 2016
Mr. Ban Ki-Moon, UN Secretary-General, Ladies and Gentlemen, heads of delegations, Members of the General Assembly, Esteemed Audience, Peace be upon you, A year ago we stood here when large amounts of Iraq's territory was occupied by the terrorist organization Daesh. Today, we stand again at the same place to declare before you that Iraq is being liberated and that Iraqis have been able to liberate most of their land and towns with their unity and determination. Currently we are heading towards liberating Nineveh, the last province remained under Daesh, from which we regained major areas and we shall complete its liberation by the end of this year. We have declared 2016, as a year for liberation and victory. Our fundamental goal is to liberate our people before the land and to save the civilians from Daesh that ruined all aspects of life and destroyed archeological monuments of the ancient civilization of Mesopotamia.
We look forward to the day when Iraq and the whole region is free of Daesh. Nevertheless, our delight would come true only when the whole World becomes free from terrorism that threatens our peoples and nations. This requires serious collaboration to besiege terrorism, dry out its ideological and financial resources, and demolish its networks and recruitment hubs which are all over the world. Without such co-operation, terrorism would reach everywhere and refugees fleeing conflict areas would increase in numbers, which has already reached serious and unprecedented levels. We assure you that Daesh is literally an adversary to Islam, rather than other convictions, they have murdered thousands of Muslims and caused destruction in many of the Arab and Islamic States, and it has also transmitted its evil to other Capitals and cities worldwide; killing and terrorizing civilians in France, Belgium, Germany, the United States, Russia and the rest of the world. There is no choice but to cooperate to win the war against terrorism. We deem any victory achieved against Daesh anywhere in the world as a global triumph. The danger of formation of terrorist organizations such as A1- Qaeda or Daesh will not end until we address the problem of the radical ideology of these backward groups that rely on sectarian segregation and adversarial thought against all faiths and beliefs, which is fed by the short vision that has hindered the opportunities of development in our countries. To combat this scourge, which has spread amongst youth and exploited the feeling of discontent amongst them, requires a real stand from countries and organizations to review the programs and educational curriculums, and to remove these feelings of frustration and to absorb these youths and to cut the way for any attempts to reform such terrorist organizations in the future. Daesh, which falsely claimed the defense of Sunnis; is killing Shiites, Sunnis, Christians, Yazidis, Arabs, Kurds and Turkmens as well. Their atrocities involved all the spectrum of Iraq, it diversified between Takfir, displacement, women enslavement, genocides, and destruction of antiquities, mosques and churches. Such hideous crimes were perpetrated against cities such as Amerly, Sinjar, Taza, Anbar, Mosul, Salahuddin and Diyala as well as upon the victims of the Speicher carnage, notwithstanding the cowardly terrorist attacks on civilians in the districts of Baghdad and the rest of Iraq’s provinces.
Since we and our people stand together in the same trench to fight terrorism and corruption and work together to build a state on the basis of peaceful coexistence and respect for religious, ideological and sectarian diversity, under the rule of values and principles of Justice and equality. Each Iraqi contributes to the victory achieved in the fight against Daesh. It is a National and non-conventional battle involving all the Iraqi People without discrimination. Our forces of the Army, the federal and local police, the popular mobilization, the tribal mobilization and the Peshmerga belong to different religions, ethnicities and sects but they share one goal to defend their home and sanctities. This defense enjoys support by the religious authority and wisdom led by Grand ayatollah Sayyed All al-Sistani whose historical Fatwa formed a strong mobilization made up of all Iraqi people and was supported by religious figures of all Iraqi component.
United Arab Emirates
Minister for Foreign Affairs Sheikh Abdullah Bin Zayed Al Nahyan
Sept. 24, 2016
We are all aware of the incidents of violence and terrorism, which have taken unprecedented forms and used heinous methods, causing fear and terror not only in the Middle East but in many countries of the world, and which proved that violence and terrorism are no longer associated with a certain state or a region, but are global threats, with no borders.
What have the prominent powers capable of addressing these serious crises done? They have simply tried to minimize the severe impacts of these crises without resolving them. The natural result of this approach has been to increase the complexities that are coupled with such crises due to issues including the threat to the state, collapse of and conflict among its institutions, the emergence of terrorism and extremism, and the high price paid by the loss of the lives of the region's children and their futures.
"The Islamists" is a book and website on the origins, evolution, and positions of Islamist movements in the Middle East. The movements are redefining the order and borders in the world’s most volatile region. Yet they have diverse goals and different constituencies. Sometimes they are even rivals. Read more