Listen to your people, C20 host tells world leaders

The summit’s agenda had 65 discussion sessions and workshops, in which the more than 380 speakers included representatives of the governments of twenty countries. (Supplied)
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Updated 11 October 2020

Listen to your people, C20 host tells world leaders

  • King Salman receives C20 final statement through his representative
  • Prince Abdul Aziz bin Salman, the minister of energy, participated in a special dialogue on the future of green energy

RIYADH: Governments should ensure their people’s voices are heard, the Saudi co-chair of the C20 “virtual” summit said on Saturday.

Dania Al-Maeena was wrapping up the C20, the civil society engagement group for the G20 countries, during a virtual meeting from Oct. 6 to 10, with more than 20,000 participants from 109 countries.

Saudi Arabia is host of this year's G20 Leaders' Summit, scheduled on November 21-22, 2020.

“We must always listen to voices without discrimination or proxy,” she said. “Rules-based, fair and solidarity-driven multilateralism is our best way to tackle our complex cross-border problems.”
The C20 said civil society was being “sidelined from global and local decision-making.” 

It urged G20 leaders to “adopt just policies for an inclusive recovery, restore faith in multilateralism, and attend immediately to the climate and ecological crisis.”

According to the C20 website, the group “provides a platform of Civil Society Organizations around the world to bring forth a non-government and non-business voice” and “provides a space through which CSOs can contribute in a structured and sustained manner to the G20.”

The summit’s agenda had 65 discussion sessions and workshops, in which the more than 380 speakers included representatives of the governments of twenty countries, international civil society organizations and specialized international organizations, as well as experts and decision-makers.

Prince Abdul Aziz bin Salman, the minister of energy, participated in a special dialogue on the future of green energy.

A number of representatives of the Saudi presidency of the G20 countries also took part in the summit, including Fahd Al-Mubarak, minister of state; Munir Al-Desouki, assistant minister of communications and information technology; and Abdul Aziz Al-Rasheed, assistant minister of finance for international affairs and macro-financial policies.

The work of the summit was concluded when the Minister of Human  Resources and Social Development Ahmed Al-Rajhi received the final statement of the Contact Group on behalf of King Salman during a meeting with the steering and advisory committees of the C20 group.


Leader of banned charity leader seeks asylum from Turkey amid Macron-Erdogan row

Updated 32 min 20 sec ago

Leader of banned charity leader seeks asylum from Turkey amid Macron-Erdogan row

  • Sihamedi, the founder of the BarakaCity NGO, claimed that he no longer felt safe in France

ANKARA: The prospect of granting asylum to Idriss Sihamedi, the founder of a Muslim charity that has been shut down in France over his alleged ties to the “radical Islamist movement,” stirred debate about the potential repercussions amid the already escalating French-Turkish spat.

The Turkish interior ministry announced on Oct. 29 that Ankara will assess Sihamedi’s request for himself and his team after receiving his official application.

Sihamedi, the founder of the BarakaCity NGO, claimed that he no longer felt safe in France. His NGO was closed officially on Oct. 28 on the grounds that it “incites hate, has relations with the radical Islamist movement and justifies terrorist acts.”

He posted his asylum request on his official Twitter account in both French and Turkish, tagging Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. He also alleged he had received death threats.

His post received a quick reply from the Turkish interior ministry’s migration management department: “Hello Sihamedi. If you and your colleagues were to personally apply to our institution with your surname, first name, identity information, petition for an asylum request and your passport number, your request will be assessed.”

However, experts think that proceeding with the asylum request of such radicals means playing with fire.

“I think Erdogan is continuing to play a dangerous game by courting relationships with radical figures and in some cases jihadists,” Colin Clarke, senior research fellow on terror-financing networks at the Soufan Center, told Arab News. “Turkey is already viewed as a hot spot for jihadists given its proximity to Iraq and Syria.”

Sihamedi is accused of inciting hatred, encouraging people to violent acts, maintaining relations within the radical Islamist movement, money laundering in the name of Salafi organisations and expressing support for Hitler and the Nazis. He is also blamed for organizing suicide attacks and supporting Daesh.

According to Clarke, if Turkey grants asylum to Sihamedi and his team, it may create trouble, both domestically but also with NATO allies.

“Moving forward with actions like this could easily backfire on Turkey and cause considerable blowback. I find these overt flirtations with radical Islamists counterproductive and short-sighted,” he said.

Sihamedi was deported from Turkey last year in May at France’s request and his passport was confiscated at Istanbul airport.

BarakaCity was founded in 2010 in Evry-Courcouronnes (Essonne). The Islamic humanitarian NGO has been closely monitored by French intelligence since 2014. Its buildings were raided several times in 2015 and 2017, and it was investigating for “terrorist financing” and “terrorist criminal association” for three years.

The NGO has said it wants to move its headquarters to another country. At a time when relations between Paris and Ankara are more strained than ever, the Turkish branch of the NGO is headed by a Franco-Turkish national known for his Salafi credentials.

“The French government dissolved BarakaCity also because in the past the NGO received money from Samy Amimour, a member of the Bataclan terrorist commando group in  2015, and from Larossi Abballa, who in 2016 killed a policeman and his wife in Magnanville,” said Matteo Pugliese, associate research fellow at Milan-based think tank ISPI.

“According to the French government, BarakaCity provides a sort of ideological justification for violent radicals, especially when it calls for the punishment of those who publish cartoons or criticize Islam. I think that we are talking about a grey zone, where non-violent extremism meets violent radicalization.”

Sihamedi was released under judicial supervision and is due to face trial in December.

French government also announced plans to dissolve other associations suspected of supporting extremist ideologies.

“If Turkey grants asylum to Sihamedi, France will use this to accuse the country of sheltering Islamists who radicalize people with online propaganda,” Pugliese said. “This is part of the verbal escalation between Macron and Erdogan and will be used by both for political internal goals.”