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Let’s teach our youth to accept and build not to destroy

The decision to attack the so-called Islamic State or “Daish”, as it is called in Arabic, strongholds in Syria and Iraq was welcomed by many, if not by all. This organization or cult has caused immense hardship to the people of the region. It also has created a blurred image of Islam. By using a distorted Islamic ideology, IS continues to further its bloody agenda. It targets the minds and hearts of the gullible young and has been able to recruit them spreading violence and hatred in large segments of the Arab world.

Grotesque pictures of beheadings, torture and brutality have shocked the majority of Muslims who totally abhor the actions of this evil cult.  However, the anti-Islam campaign continues. Certain segments of Western media have had a field day equating these heinous acts with our Islamic ideology, which only serves to mislead public opinion, causing further resentment against Islam. They continue to scoff at any explanation or reasoning and nothing seems to be able to make them desist from such notions.  

We need to come up with urgent solutions? We should develop a more effective strategy to confront the dangerous threat of IS that continues to gain power and has already reached our borders.

While the military attacks by a united Arab front are important, they are, however, not enough. What is more important is to hit at the very roots of this deviant ideology in order to put a stop to the ideological influence of this terrorist group. We need a more effective strategy to address the culture of extremism and fanaticism and promote a more tolerant and moderate Muslim approach.

We must protect our young from the vicious IS campaign that preys on innocent minds promising them paradise and a better life. We need to provide our young with the proper religious education and awareness to renounce violence and extremism and to promote the values of dialogue, tolerance and mutual respect, among religions and cultures.

To move Saudi Arabia forward, we need to resolve the ideological crisis that has allowed extremely radical views to exist. 

Sadly over the past two decades, our society has witnessed the spread of intolerance and sectarian prejudices that have confused our young people and disrupted their peaceful way of life. They were exposed to imams uttering inflammatory words in mosques. Children were brainwashed by extremist teachers in schools and in summer camps. On social media all kinds of strange “fatwas” or religious edicts were repeated by ignorant self-appointed scholars.

The delay in stopping extremists and seriously targeting the menace has cost us dearly. The problem will take time to address. However, identifying our problems and acknowledging our mistakes are important steps in the right direction. What is required at this stage is to allow different voices to speak. We need to teach our young to respect other people and accept different opinions. 

The extremists among us who muzzle any voice or opinion are the reason behind the spread of intolerance in our society. The authorities have lately stepped up their campaign to confront them; however, they are a force and they still have a lot of influence. 

The media should also play an important role by highlighting the dangers of dogmatic theories and violence. Biased writers who support the preachers of hatred should not be given a platform. 

The Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah has initiated a dialogue of faiths and cultures. However, how can we have dialogue with others if it is absent in our own society?

How can we accept others when we refuse to acknowledge the diversity in Muslim society? To put a stop to extremism and fanaticism we need to take stern measures to implement a judicial process criminalizing acts or statements leading to hatred. No one has a license on religion and the right to dictate.  

To start the process of moderation and harmony we need cooperation between government, business and industry, as well as the general public. Moreover, our academic institutions should encourage students to embrace innovative ideas without compromising their Islamic values and principles. 

We owe it to our young people to protect them and teach them to love life and to enjoy the beauty of this world as ordained in the Holy Qur’an. 

The writer is Editor-at-Large. Follow on Twitter: @KhaledAlmaeena


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