AE Com­mits to Counter Vi­o­lent E trem­ism

India Strategic - - AIR FORCE DAY SPECIAL - – Emi­rates News Agency, WAM

ABU DHABI. While the United Arab Emi­rates, to­gether with its al­lies around the world, con­tin­ues to en­gage ac­tively in the global strug­gle against ex­trem­ism and ter­ror­ism, there is still much to be done to iden­tify the best ways of tack­ling the prob­lem, ac­cord­ing to Maq­soud Kruse, the Ex­ec­u­tive Direc­tor of He­dayah, the Abu Dhabi- based In­ter­na­tional Cen­tre of Ex­cel­lence for Coun­ter­ing Vi­o­lent Ex­trem­ism, CVE. “To be re­al­is­tic and frank,” he says, “we are still in need of sys­tem­atic ap­proaches to fur­ther un­der­stand the com­plex­ity of the phe­nom­ena of vi­o­lent ex­trem­ism.” Only then, he says, will it be pos­si­ble to de­velop “ef­fec­tive, tested and proven in­ter­ven­tions which, once tested and proven, can emerge as a ‘good’ prac­tice’ that is both ‘valid’ and ‘re­li­able’.”

As part of its work, He­dayah is now into its sec­ond year of an ex­pand­ing Global Pro­gramme on the De­vel­op­ment of Na­tional CVE Strate­gies. Part of this in­volves recog­ni­tion that the drivers that con­trib­ute to the spread of ex­trem­ism can be dif­fer­ent in each coun­try.

The Na­tional Strate­gies, Kruse says, must be long term and in­clu­sive. “We have learned that we need to shift our think­ing from fo­cus­ing on the prob­lem to­wards fo­cus­ing on so­lu­tions by pro­vid­ing the plat­form for gen­er­at­ing ideas that can pro­vide cre­ative, in­no­va­tive, and authentic in­ter­ven­tions.” Kruse adds, “Take the UAE as an ex­am­ple of a “Multi-Ax­iom” na­tional strat­egy that takes into con­sid­er­a­tion the de­vel­op­ment of the le­gal in­fra­struc­ture to counter ex­trem­ism; the im­por­tant role of ed­u­ca­tion; the pro­mo­tion of tol­er­ance, hap­pi­ness and youth en­gage­ment; and the pos­i­tive role of fam­i­lies, women, cul­ture and re­li­gious mod­er­a­tion.”

In pur­suit of this ob­jec­tive, He­dayah has built part­ner­ships with gov­ern­ments, ex­ist­ing in­ter­na­tional and re­gional training cen­tres and think tanks, rel­e­vant aca­demic and re­search in­sti­tu­tions and mul­ti­lat­eral or­gan­i­sa­tions, as well as CVE ex­perts and rel­e­vant pri­vate sec­tor and non­govern­men­tal or­gan­i­sa­tions from around the world.

Of­fi­cials note that be­sides He­dayah, the UAE has also been en­gaged in the launch­ing of two other in­ter­na­tional ini­tia­tives de­signed to counter vi­o­lent ex­trem­ism, with a par­tic­u­lar fo­cus on the sit­u­a­tion within the re­gion. One is the Sawab Cen­tre, launched jointly with the United States, which is the first-ever multi-na­tional on­line mes­sag­ing and en­gage­ment pro­gramme in sup­port of the Global Coali­tion Against Daesh. An­other is The Fo­rum for Pro­mot­ing Peace in Mus­lim So­ci­eties that had as one of its key de­liv­er­ables the es­tab­lish­ment of the Mus­lim Coun­cil of El­ders, an in­de­pen­dent in­ter­na­tional body which brings to­gether lead­ing schol­ars to pro­mote an ac­cu­rate un­der­stand­ing of the mes­sage of Is­lam and the real na­ture of the tol­er­ance that lies at its heart.

One of its sig­nif­i­cant out­comes is the “Mar­rakesh Dec­la­ra­tion”, which is based on the his­toric re­vival of the ob­jec­tives and aims of the “Char­ter of Me­d­ina”, which was de­clared by the Prophet Mo­hammed (PBUH) and pro­vide in­sights about the rights of re­li­gious mi­nori­ties in Mus­lim lands, both in the­ory and prac­tice.

While the strug­gle against ex­trem­ism is one that spans the globe, it is one that is of par­tic­u­lar con­cern to the United Arab Emi­rates.

As the UAE Am­bas­sador to the United States, Yousuf Al Otaiba, noted in an ar­ti­cle a few days ago to mark the 15th an­niver­sary of the 9/11 ter­ror­ist at­tacks in the United States, “In the Mid­dle East, in the heart of the Arab world, we face an ex­is­ten­tial threat from ex­trem­ism. Our com­mu­ni­ties, our fam­i­lies, our liveli­hoods, our en­tire way of life are ex­posed and un­der con­stant at­tack.”

“In the UAE,” Al Otaiba noted, “we are ad­vanc­ing mod­er­a­tion in both our schools and places of wor­ship. Our ed­u­ca­tion sys­tem is built to re­in­force Is­lam’s true val­ues based on di­a­logue, tol­er­ance, mod­er­a­tion, and peace. And in our mosques, we are mod­ernising the way Is­lam is taught, de­vel­op­ing new training pro­grammes for imams and up­dat­ing Qu­ranic com­men­taries.”

An­other as­pect of this pol­icy is the de­ter­mi­na­tion of the UAE Govern­ment to pro­mote and sus­tain the cli­mate of re­li­gious tol­er­ance and co-ex­is­tence to be found in the Emi­rates. While the UAE is a Mus­lim coun­try, the free­dom to wor­ship is guar­an­teed by the UAE Con­sti­tu­tion and there are cur­rently over 40 churches serv­ing Chris­tian ex­pa­tri­ates, as well as tem­ples for the Hindu and Sikh com­mu­ni­ties.

The com­mit­ment to re­li­gious tol­er­ance and di­a­logue, as well as the un­der­ly­ing na­ture of the true val­ues of Is­lam, is fre­quently em­pha­sised by lead­ing govern­ment of­fi­cials. For ex­am­ple, the UAE has en­acted the An­tiDis­crim­i­na­tory Law, is­sued fol­low­ing a de­cree by Pres­i­dent Sheikh Khal­ifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, that crim­i­nalises any acts that stoke re­li­gious ha­tred or which in­sult re­li­gion through any form of ex­pres­sion.

Maq­soud Kruse, Ex­ec­u­tive Direc­tor of He­dayah

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