Day event “Antidotes to Islamist Radicalisation” European Parliament
Brussels, 2nd of May 2017 – The International Organisation to Preserve Human Rights (IOPHR) held an important day event inside the European Parliament under the title of Antidotes to Islamist Radicalisation. This event was sponsored and hosted by British MEP Geoffrey Van Orden from the ECR Group, supported by MEPs from the EPP, S&D and ALDE groups.
MEPs of different committees, backgrounds and delegations, together with representatives from various Human Rights Organisations and Governmental Organisations, witnessed speeches delivered by three different panels:
The first panel provided an overview of the topic, focusing on the scale, extent and nature of the problem of radicalisation, the relevance of the issue, why some people are more vulnerable to being radicalisedthan others, the counter radicalisation message, the CONTEST programme, and the effectiveness of efforts to deal with the potential threat to the security of our citizens. Key note speaker was EU Counter Terrorism Coordinator Gilles de Kerchove. Other speakers were Head of the Information Management Unit and Chairman of the Local Task-Force on Radicalism in Brussels, Cedric Smeets, Jacopo Bellasio from Rand Corporation and Sonia Farrey speaking on behalf of the UK Embassy Counter Terrorism Section.
The second panel comprised of Gerry Campbell who is a former Scotland Yard Detective Chief Superintendent, Dr Stephanie Dornschneider, a researcher on violence at the Dublin University, and Dr Seyed M. Azmayesh, who is a jurist-scholar and an expert on Islamic Misconceptions and Quranic Misinterpretations, as well as the founder of the International Organisation to Preserve Human Rights (IOPHR). This panel looked at the distortion of belief through the interpretation of religious requirements, the “conversion” factor, and the vulnerability of the prison population. Other points discussed were the problem of lack of self-belief and promotion of the core culture in host countries, the role of national, foreign and social media, and the significance of external influences: foreign training of imams, foreign funding of mosques and madrassahs, and the significance of the veil and other outward visible signs of a particular identity.
In the third panel, Roberta Bonazzi from the European Democracy Foundation, Dr Seyed M. Azmayesh and Khalid Amir gave their views on the nature of radicalisation and the effectiveness of current methods of dealing with radicalisation, and what more needs to be done to deal with issues of integration, assimilation, identity and alienation. They also discussed ways to encourage greater cooperation from vulnerable communities, to encourage “Muslim Democrats” and, most importantly, to protect law-abiding citizens and our open, democratic way of life from terrorism. Closing remarks were given by Mattie Heaven, the Policy and Advocacy Advisor on Islamic Misconceptions and a senior member of the IOPHR, as well as MEP Geoffrey Van Orden and MEP Syed Kamall.
Having displayed a broad variety of approaches towards the definition of the current societal crisis related to Islamist violence and proposing some approaches to tackle these problems, the audience brought in some relevant questions and shared their views.
One of the main lines of thought during the event was to highlight the underlying issues and identify the sources of the problem. The compatibility of the principles of human rights with the teachings of the Quran was emphasised, along with the historical context of the teachings of the Quran. It was discussed that historically, these teachings were opposed by certain antagonists, during the life-time of the Prophet Mohammed. These teachings became distorted through inventions by the clerics and power-brokers, who replaced the deep studies of the Quran with tribal traditions, by preaching political speeches and propaganda during Friday Prayers, rather than spiritual talks. These preachers gave their talk based on their specific hidden agenda, using religion as a means of influencing people. This problem still prevails today, when preachers from various countries and denominations use the Friday Praying for the proliferation of specific political agendas all over Europe, and they fail to base their speeches on principles of the Quran.
Conclusively, the strongest proposals to counter terrorism and to stop young people from falling into the traps of ideologues under the name of Islam, were related to education and funding of various educational programmes on different levels. Besides increased coordination between a variety of governmental and civil institutions, policy-makers were reminded that some of the current laws have several loopholes which provide too much latitude for misplaced-funding, and promotion of hate-speeches and diverse cultural practices that do not correspond with Human Rights.
Compiled movie-clips of a series of interviews from after the event, to reflect the views of the guests and speakers as well as the presentations of the speakers during the event, are soon to be seen here.