Radicalisation and Extremism with Interfaith Dialogue

Addressing/Challenging Radicalisation and Extremism with Interfaith Dialogue for Peace: What Works?

Remarks by Franco Frattini

President Grasso, President Napolitano,Ladies and Gentlemen, Presidents, Prime Ministers, Ministers, Secretaries-General, distinguished guests,

I’m honoured to participate to the Opening Ceremony after the high level keynotes expressed by President Grasso and President Napolitano, two Italian statesmen that all of you highly esteem. 
We have all been shocked with the recent terrorist attacks that have taken place in Europe and in the Mediterranean region, which led to the deaths of so many people, many of them women and children.  
Terrorism – and I think particularly of Daesh – is the negation of all that was built by the civilization. A civilization that, in the Mediterranean, has fed itself for centuries on the encounter among cultures and the three great monotheistic religions: Judaism, Christianity and Islam. Over the centuries Abraham’s descendants have built together a system of relations, cultural exchanges, trades, extraordinarily important artistic realizations, testifying that the mutual enrichment of those different cultures, different religions and civilizations has been a benefit to all Mankind.

Radicalisation and extremisms are seeking to destroy all of that. Daesh terrorists establish as a rule of their acting crime, killing, man’s attack against man, the humiliation of women and children with an action that violates the fundamentals of the Koran and of Islam itself. And I think that first Christians, Muslims and Jewish should say, all together, with great force, that those who kill in the name of religion are blaspheming God.

Those words have been often repeated by the Holy Father, Pope Francis; and those are the words that also important Muslim leaders uttered after the horrific attacks which have recently hit Paris, the heart of Europe, and only a few days weeks Turkey too.

Terrorism cannot have any justification. There is no justification for those who kill, those who humiliate the dignity of every human being. But it is clear that we must explore the deep roots leading to violent radicalisation, inducing many boys and girls to pick up a gun, leave the city where they were born and raised, perhaps inside the heart of Europe, and think to be empowered to fight against their own brothers practicing another religion or another Quran’s doctrine. 

And if we have to understand the underlying causes of violent radicalisation, first of all we Westerners, we Europeans, we Italians, we all need to do self-criticism; however, with a certain pride, I must say Italy is among the countries that have always understood much more than others, the deep roots of despair and poverty which are fuelling violent radicalisation in many countries of the Middle East and Africa.
But there are other issues that we should find the courage to face: we must tackle the issue of migration and the drama of refugees, the issue of culture and education of youth at their roots. Education, and hence politics and not war, is the best way to react against the attack of terrorism.

We certainly have to defend ourselves. We must set those cities where women are enslaved and men are beheaded finally free. Certainly. That is for sure. However, we have even more to prepare tomorrow’s elites in those countries, in Africa, in the Middle East, so that they can grow not in hatred against the West – a hatred exploited by terrorists – but to grow instead under the leadership of enlightened religious and civic leaders for whom the values ​​of the respect for the human being is the fundamental rule of their teaching.

Education to dialogue and mutual respect are not negotiable issues. First of all, human life. For all Believers, life is absolutely the most important of the assets and rights that the Lord has given us. And therefore the principle according to which human life must be guaranteed is absolutely non-negotiable.
Then, let’s remember the dignity of every person, every human being, every woman, every child. Children – boys and girls – have the right to grow up, go to school, not to be captured by a militia that gives them a gun or a knife and forces them to commit horrible crimes.

And then, the role of women: which means dignity, opportunity, and therefore considers as the total negation of those principles every violent subjugation, every forced marriage, every enslavement, not to mention the horrific mass rapes to which terrorists Daesh have unfortunately let us become accustomed.
Then the attack to values and culture: with their violent radicalisation against each symbol of civilization, Daesh terrorists are systematically trying to destroy everything that architects, artists, painters, sculptors of our common history have done in the beautiful region of the Mediterranean and in the Middle East.
Barbarism is certainly not the answer to other barbarities, mass bombing, or ethnic cleansing. It must be answered with humanism, focusing on the human person with his rights, with his uniqueness resulting from the uniqueness of the human being in respect of any other living being.

Well, today, so many centuries after Italian Humanism and Renaissance, a global renaissance based on the human person is badly needed. I believe that the believers of the three monotheistic religions can share the principle that the human person is at the center of the universe and the existence of creation in each of our religions. And I hope it could be reached through this “High Level Plenary Meeting” and the meetings that this delegation will have with Italian authorities as well.

Thank you very much.

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