Representatives of civil society, human rights activists and researchers in the affairs of Islamic movements agreed on the need to review and evaluate national and international visions and strategies to combat terrorism. They also suggested recommendations that would make these strategies successful, especially with the complexity of the phenomenon of terrorism, the development of terrorist organizations’ tactics in carrying out their operations around the world, and successive failures in dealing with the growing global number of terrorist organizations, and non-traditional operations, as well as the need to review present religious discourses.
This came at the conclusion of the conference “Terrorism and human rights, the problem and mechanisms of confrontation” held in Cairo on Wednesday, 15 November 2017 by the “Anti-Terrorism Observatory” a committee formed by the Arab Federation for Human Rights (AFHR) and the Egyptian Organization for Human Rights (EOHR).
In his inaugural address, Dr. Ahmed Thani Al Hamli, President and Founder of the Arab Federation for Human Rights, stressed that “the gravity of terrorism is increasing in our world because it is no longer seen as a security threat only to states and societies; it has become a political, economic and social crisis, of the countries in which terrorist organizations operate, imposing additional burdens on the international community to deal with them.”
“The terrorist and extremist groups in the Arab world such as Al Qaeda, Da’esh, Houthis, Hezbollah and the Muslim Brotherhood, receive financial, military and media support from Qatar and Iran. They act in accordance with patterns aimed at fueling civil strife and political divisions, igniting armed conflicts and chaos so that they can penetrate those countries, undermine the structures of these Arab states, and falsely legitimize their diverse activities as a defender of people, including abuse of human rights discourse through attempts to politicize it.
“The continued involvement of Qatar and Iran in the support and financing of terrorism, and the non-compliance with conventions and charters and international resolutions and principles established in the charters of the United Nations and the League of Arab States and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation and conventions against international terrorism, Arab and international community stresses the commitment to combat extremism and terrorism in all their forms and to prevent their financing or to provide safe havens, stop all acts of incitement and incitement to hatred or violence, full compliance with international law and non-interference in the affairs of Arab states, Extremism and terrorism and the consequent threats to the security of the region and indeed the world at large. “
Dr. Al-Hamli called upon the United Nations, the decision-making countries of the world and the international community to adopt a more effective and diverse strategies in the face of terrorism wherever it may occur, to drain its sources and punish countries and organizations supporting it. He further urged for the peaceful settlement of disputes in accordance with the principles of justice and international law, the response to repression and the eradication of poverty, the promotion of sustained economic growth, sustainable development and global prosperity; respect for human rights for all and the rule of law between member state. They equally need to ensure respect for all religions, values, religious or cultural beliefs, and international cooperation in solving international problems of a political nature, economic, social, cultural or humanitarian, and to meet unequivocally and without discrimination commitments made by the countries themselves in accordance with international human rights instruments.
Additionally, Dr. Hafez Abu Saada, head of the Egyptian Organization for Human Rights, stressed that terrorism has become a characteristic of the past century because the expansion and increase of terrorist activities in many regions of the world, has made it to become a real threat to human existence and civilizations. To achieve its objectives, States and relevant organizations seek to find ways to combat and eradicate the phenomenon of terrorism.
“As a result of the emergence of terrorism on a large scale, most countries have enacted strict human rights laws to counter terrorist operations. Here, a fundamental problem arises in this regard: the degree of harmonization between the fight against terrorism and the protection of human rights which led to the issuance of many covenants and declarations that advocate and try to reconcile these dilemmas and in a way that significantly enhances human rights.
Mr. Mohamed Fayek, President of the National Council for Human Rights, stressed that terrorism violates the human right to live in freedom, a crime committed in the national and international environment, which highlights the role of the state in combating it and ensuring security for all members of society.
“There are many countries that support terrorism through money and oil, but they do not know that terrorism sooner or later will be defeated and there is no moderate terrorism. Terrorism in all its forms is a crime against humanity.”
Mr. Fayek added that under the current circumstances, there should be efforts to counter-terrorism through enlightenment, drama and literature. The National Council for Human Rights in Egypt has therefore counteracted terrorism by spreading cultural awareness and signing a code of ethics with enlightened clerics to educate people about the dangers of terrorism and that for the Arab security to achieve its security alone, it must be national security that should protect this country.
In the first session, entitled “Returnees from Syria and Libya and their impact on the exacerbation of the phenomenon of terrorism,” Ahmed Abdel-Hafiz, Vice President of the Egyptian Organization for Human Rights, said that “the current religious discourse will not face the problem of terrorism in any way, we need to renew the religious discourse.”
He added that the blocking of websites and newspapers carried out by the state cannot also face this terrorism. He stressed that there must be new sophisticated means to confront these terrorists, suggesting in this context that the centers of research and political studies should confront these terrorist ideas in new and sophisticated ways to respond to them and the fatwas of Takfirin they publish.
He added that the speeches of the Ministry of Social Affairs and the imams of the government mosques are not suitable for this intellectual confrontation Takfiri, and must prepare qualified advocates that have the ability to confront the same grounds they speak. He called on all not to ignore the responses of various Islamic movements to each other and re-launching a new religious discourse emphasizing the national unity between Muslims and Christians and not isolating them in mosques and churches.
Dr. Salah Salam, member of the National Council for Human Rights, praised the speech of President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi at the recent youth forum held in Sharm el-Sheikh, saying that the fight against terrorism is part of human rights. He added that the aim of combating terrorism is to preserve human life and the right to life which is a basic human rights. Terrorism also costs the state many losses in armaments, plans, ammunition and other losses, which affect the lives of citizens, drain state resources and affect the budget of important sectors such as health, education, housing and others.
He pointed out that the terror of Sinai involves about 490 cases of people being slaughter, shot dead or kidnapped from Northern Sinai on the pretext of cooperation with the armed forces. He added that there are accusations of the people of Sinai in cooperation with terrorism, wondering how to be killed and kidnapped if they cooperate with terrorists. He also pointed out that in each society all kinds of people exist, including those who support the state and some who cooperate with terrorists. There is no society that is completely pure.
Salam also noted that the army was not allowed to enter northern Sinai before June 30, 2013, but with the new regime and the escalation of terrorism, understandings were reached with Israel on the presence of the armed forces to combat terrorism and to deal with sabotage and assassination. He added that large numbers of terrorists and quantities of weapons were able to enter the Egyptian border, especially in northern Sinai to carry out terrorist acts. He stressed that in the past and until recently, the North Sinai border was exploited in trafficking in human beings.
Professor Maher Farghali, an expert in the Islamic movements, said that the returnees from abroad in 2003 were about 300 mobile fighters from Afghanistan and Pakistan to carry out terrorist acts, 800 from Britain, 1500 from France, 800 Egyptians from Libya from Lahad and 3,000 from Tunisia in the mountains.
Farghali addressed the causes of this problem as a result of a number of factors. First, after the collapse of the major organizations in favor of small cells after the Arab spring revolutions, the national organizations emerged and the alternative organizations were established, Organization of the Soldiers of Islam (supporters of Islam and others). Second, the transformation from empowerment to proliferation and not just stability in a geographical area. Third, the transformation of an organization from local thinking to global thinking instead of working in Egypt (Egypt – the mystery of the Egyptian puzzle – Caliphate in Egypt). Fourth, the use of the method of ‘lone wolf’ terrorism and small terrorist cells. Fifthly, technological development through the recruitment of terrorists and their inclusion in the organization has become via the Internet and is no longer limited to mosques only, as in the past, and work to brainwash and move from small organizations and the small cells to a rapid spread. Fifth, the evolution of the ideology of terrorist organizations where the rule is different from the preacher, since the rule considers the people non-infidel, while urging go to the infidel, while agreeing that the state does not rule the law infidel.
Farghali divided the returnees from abroad into four groups representing different ideological trends. First: a person returning with the same thought and being arrested. Second: a person returning lost thought and lost confidence in the organization. Third: a person returning with the same thought and loss of confidence; With the same thought and the same confidence in the organization, and therefore called for the need to review and correct ideas within prisons by working to correct the intellectual path.
Dr. Mustafa Mohammed Al-Zaidi, Secretary of the Executive Committee of the National People’s Movement, said that Qatar finances and supports terrorism, as well as Turkey and other countries. Libya is also a major financier of terrorism, whether money, arms or people. Libya is governed by a group of ignorant and terrorists who have managed to control it completely, and that the one facing them on the scene now is the army alone, but its funding is not commensurate with the task entrusted to him.
Dr. Al-Zaidi added that there are crimes committed by an organized group that violate human rights in Libya. All Libyan families are fragmented, approximately 2 million have been completely displaced, and 6 areas in Tripoli have no citizens all of whom are displaced abroad. He called on human rights organizations to maintain a strong Egypt because the security of Egypt is safe for all the Arab countries. All Arab countries can return security to Egypt as long as Egypt is strong, stressing that the June 30 revolution supported Egypt’s power and ability to confront terrorism. The West is working to support terrorism to tarnish the image of Islam, as The Muslim Brotherhood was founded in Britain.
He also said that Arab countries must unite as a single system in the face of the fragmentation schemes sponsored by the Western countries and do not count on the official Arab regimes but rely on the educated Arab elites. Calling for a real national project to confront the plans of the West and the fight against terrorism. He called on the Egyptian Organization for Human Rights and the Arab Federation for Human Rights to face violations of human rights in Libya, to strengthen international justice in Libya and to raise cases in this regard because local justice is not present in cases of murder, destruction and kidnapping.
Brigadier General Khaled Okasha, security expert in the fight against terrorism, stressed that the terrorists’ ideas are focused on changing the concepts and ideas of the elements they want to attract according to each country. Since the establishment of the Muslim Brotherhood in 1928 and even Al Qaeda and Da’esh, the claim is always that their rights are violated and that the organization aims to restore the rights to their followers.
He called for the support of the Egyptian state to Libya, adding that these terrorist organizations are the paradigm shift from being local organizations to regional and international trans-border organizations, based on strengths and a major weapon in the proxy war of wars to break up the Arab region. African countries are also involved in the conflict and some but not all Western countries. These organizations are considered to be chartered operating parties for the implementation of a specific scheme.
He further pointed out that the destruction of the Libyan state is not only limited to terrorist organizations, but the UN Security Council’s unjust decision to ban arms against the Libyan army, although there are Libyan officers and soldiers who aim to resist terrorist organizations, stressing the need for unity of culture, education, and called for the renewal of religious discourse in mosques and churches under the supervision of religious scholars and national thinktanks.
The second session was titled “Mobilization Mechanism of armed violence groups, the proposals of confrontation.” Mr. Essam Shehah, Secretary General of the Egyptian Organization for Human Rights, stressed that terrorism is a global phenomenon that most countries suffer from, stressing that we have some gaps in the field of human rights and that terrorism gives the government the opportunity to violate some human rights. He stressed that there is a popular trend that supports the fight against terrorism and it is necessary to adopt international strategies to combat terrorism, including poverty, to curb this phenomenon, especially that terrorism has multidimensional aspects of rights and freedoms as long as we seek sustainable development in the country.
On his part, Dr. Sameh Eid, an expert on Islamic groups, explained that the issue of terrorism will not be resolved in a conference. We are talking about a two-century conflict between modernization and civilization in a state of general ignorance. The result was a civil state victory, but emotional words and rhetoric can win Al-Qaeda’s petition to the masses. In the past century, the ideas and words of Dr. Taha Hussein, Al-Akad, Amin Al-Kholy, Latif Al-Sayed and Ali Abdul Razek have faded, stressing that it is frightening to simplify the matter because fundamentalism has been able to formulate a jurisprudential, intellectual and dynamic system.
Dr. Eid added that a long-term battle to dismantle the intellectual system that has been built over the last four decades, stressing that we need to integrate efforts and direction of the scientific mechanisms of research and stability and discussion sessions and rehabilitation centers and other mechanisms.
Dr. Abdel-Hamid Zeid, Professor of Sociology and Undersecretary of the Social Union, stressed that there is an increase in the number of victims due to the various terrorist operations, as a result of the tremendous development of the means of technology used, as well as the targeting of terrorism for all communities and groups. Dr. Zeid added that there is a decline in violence and terrorism in neighboring countries and increasing rates in other countries, which made the biggest threat to be the drying up of the sources of terrorism before their arrival and stability or the eradication of their activities within the borders of the country. The polarization and recruitment in the Arab Spring is the primary challenge to be faced by Arab countries during the elimination of the environment conducive to the embrace of terrorism, and therefore must cooperate and work hard between all institutions at the national and regional level to face any action supported by other countries.
Dr. Zeid said that countering terrorism should not depend solely on security efforts, but rather on alleviating terrorism-related ideas among young people, and diverting recruiting and polarization methods by increasing the means of communication technology and using means of rumor and confusion.
Mr. Samir Ghattas, a member of the House of Representatives, called for the formulation of a strategy to reduce and block terrorism. There are about 4,000 surveys that believe that most of those born in 1987 were born under the age of 30. Ghattas believes that the phenomenon of terrorism can be explained through four approaches:
- The primary approach is the context and here highlights the social and economic aspects, unemployment, the deterioration of the level of education, political tyranny, lack of development, inequality, the interactions of national identity and compliance with the West and its projects.
- The second approach which is of the religious text and its interpretations: It is based on certain interpretations 80 books of political literature, including (the assets of jihad) to Abdullah Almohajer and (management of the brutality) of Abu Bakr Taji, calling for knowledge of this literature and respond to him by intellectuals and clerics to the extent possible.
- The third approach is to identify the psychological and social context of these recruits joining these terrorist organizations.
- The fourth approach is that these groups are the product of our societies and disagree with those who say they are groups that originated in the West. Western countries did not use these organizations, but they used other elements, so these organizations stem from our societies and their products.
The theme of the last session was “The religious discourse of Takfiri who stands for him.” Dr. Mustafa Kamel El Sayed, a professor of political science at the Cairo University, pointed out that we are not qualified to confront these terrorist groups, stressing that the confrontation must be comprehensive. First, he criticized the restriction on freedom of expression, especially the religious groups facing this restriction, and called for a substantive discussion of the period of Islamic rule not only in terms of legitimacy, but intellectually and politically. He also criticized the fact that a number of prominent Islamic thinkers were assassinated and arrested, and therefore freedom of opinion and expression was not allowed for this political trend.
Kamel explained that the period of Islamic rule enjoyed justice, freedom and equality, and that it is necessary to guarantee the full opportunity of these intellectual orientations freely. We must have the ability to think critically in schools, universities and research and centers, criticizing the scientific error in the curricula and the need for false religious interpretations that are far from science. In the end, he stressed the need to provide a critical scientific approach to these trends.
At the conclusion of the conference, a number of key recommendations were agreed upon:
- The necessity of activating the Legal Committee of the Egyptian Organization to carry out the required legal action to redress the victims of terrorism at the level of the local and international courts, including the international action against Turkey and Qatar and the international organization of the Egyptian and Libyan Muslim Brotherhood in cooperation with the Libyan People’s Movement and the Arab Federation for Human Rights.
- The need to hold a coordination meeting as soon as possible between the Egyptian Organization for Human Rights, the Arab Federation for Human Rights and the Libyan People’s Movement to develop a strategy of comprehensive action to counter terrorism at the level of all Arab countries and to develop all means and means of action to activate the role of human rights organizations and Arab civil society organizations in combating terrorism.
- Calls on all Egyptian and Arab organizations at a meeting to establish an Egyptian anti-terrorism coalition.
- Invite the Board of Directors of the OrganizationS to develop a new strategy to combat terrorism, in light of international human rights standards in cooperation with all cultural, religious and security institutions of the State.
- The Media Committee should quickly convene meetings and work a plan of action for media action during the coming period.