RIYADH: Religious text must not be a “prisoner” to the interpretations of extremist groups, the secretary-general of the Global Center for Combating Extremist Ideology (Etidal) has said.
Dr. Mansour Al-Shammari stressed that some extremist groups were “trying to embrace the texts to interpret them according to what they want” and he looked forward to an integration with specialized institutions to find a proper reading of these religious texts.
Al-Shammari's comments came in a press conference on Wednesday in Riyadh, in the presence of Jehangir Khan, director of the UN Center for Counter-Terrorism (UNCCT).
Al-Shammari said that Saudi Arabia spared no effort in supporting international efforts to combat extremist ideology and terrorism, believing that they are the main enemy of the development and stability of any society.
The success of development plans, he added, depended on the ability of countries to protect their capabilities and citizens from the dangers of this ideology.
He praised the UN’s efforts in combating terrorism, stressing Etidal’s keenness to exchange experiences to serve the common goals and strategies of Etidal and the UNCCT.
“Etidal’s and UNCCT’s partnership came after many meetings and fruitful efforts between the two parties,” said Al-Shammari, stressing that the goal was to reach projects on the ground.
He said that Etidal and UNCCT’s efforts had culminated in the signing of a joint memorandum of understanding last April. One objective was to cooperate in building international capacities to prevent violent extremism, and to combat the use of the Internet and social media platforms to spread extremist ideology and terrorist agenda.
“Etidal is working to expose the methods of extremist organizations in targeting young people, educating them about the dangers of this thought, and disproving the suspicions that the organizations exploit in their recruitment processes,” he said.
Al-Shammari added that Etidal was aware of the dangers of this way of thinking and of the organizations that employ all means to spread it, and they had developed specialized plans and strategies to refute such thought.
Additionally, Etidal had launched a number of initiatives to increase societal interaction with the center’s goals including: Moderate, refutation, research cooperation, university training and the Gather2 Initiative, which aims to raise awareness among people with hearing disabilities about the risks of extremism.
Khan praised Saudi Arabia’s cooperation with the international community in confronting extremism and protecting current and future societies and generations from its dangers, valuing the Kingdom’s efforts to cut off funding for terrorists.
He said that Etidal was a pillar of the UN’s strategy to combat terrorism, stressing that the issue of terrorism was “complicated,” and that the international community must be active and prepared to confront terrorists.
“Terrorism has no religion or homeland,” he said, noting the importance of developing anti-terror projects around the world. He warned that terrorists sought to influence young people in various forms such as video games.