Junior minister says extremism is fought through inter-religious dialogue

Parliamentary secretary Justyne Caruana tells UN meeting says intolerance and violence is best fought through unifying efforts and a multi-faced response

Parliamentary secretary Justyne Caruana addressed the UN Alliance of Civilizations Focal Points Meeting on behalf of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Mediterranean
Parliamentary secretary Justyne Caruana addressed the UN Alliance of Civilizations Focal Points Meeting on behalf of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Mediterranean

Parliamentary secretary Justyne Caruana has called for an inter-religious dialogue to combat the rise of extremism in Europe and the Middle East.

Addressing the UN Alliance of Civilizations Focal Points Meeting on behalf of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Mediterranean, Caruana argued that while political solutions must be found to solve the ongoing conflicts in the Middle East and Africa, the root causes of extremism must be tackled.

“To fight intolerance and violence we must unify our efforts and engage all the society, from political and religious leaders to academic experts and civil society, and forge a multi-faced response that respects international human rights and humanitarian law,” she said.

“One key priority is the revitalization of the inter-religious dialogue and the spreading of the values carried by all faiths, based on renouncing violence, promoting peace and encouraging exchange.”

The rise of the Islamic State in Syria Iraq and terrorist attacks in Paris and around the world, has fuelled concerns about Islamic extremism in the West and in Muslim countries. Bombs and exclusion have led to 3,000 Muslims from Europe to travel to the Middle East to participate in jihad, while more bombs in the Middle East are likely to push alienated European Muslims towards jihadism.

But beyond the threat of Islamist extremism, far-right extremists in Europe have once again featured on headlines. In Germany, the arrival of hundreds of thousands of refugees from Syria and the Middle East has stoked fears of a far-right resurgence.

European leaders have since announced new measures to combat the radicalization of youths and in a similar vein, parliamentary secretary Justyne Caruana explained that youths are both the primary victims of radical ideologies as well as the main target for recruitment by violent extremist groups.

“We must show them a better way through endeavours to end poverty, inequality, exclusion and lack of opportunity, while assuring access to education,” Caruana told the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations.

“Communities must not be left alone in fighting violent extremism; we must listen to their experiences and concerns, and work together to create behavioural shifts and changing mind-sets.”

“As parliamentarians, we are strongly committed to reach these goals which can be efficiently supported by a constructive use of media, particularly social media, to build trust to foster tolerance and civic values,” the Labour MP continued.

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