Teach youth to denounce hatred, Abu Dhabi meet hears

Teach youth to denounce hatred, Abu Dhabi meet hears
Dr Mohammad Habash during the opening of Conference of Tolerance, Moderation and Dialogue in Countering Extremism in Abu Dhabi.

Abu Dhabi - UAE Global Conference on Security and Encountering Terrorism opens in Abu Dhabi


Ismail Sebugwaawo

Published: Mon 5 Mar 2018, 4:45 PM

Last updated: Mon 5 Mar 2018, 6:58 PM

Experts have discussed the importance of teaching young people about peaceful thinking and the values of tolerance to protect them from extremist ideologies and radicalisation.
During a discussion on 'Investing in Education to Promote Values of Tolerance and Dialogue' at the UAE Global Conference on Security and Encountering Terrorism, Dr Mohammad Habash, a religious scholar and a former member of the Syrian parliament, said: "Educating young people about tolerance is the new frontline for hearts and minds. Young people learn to hate so easily we must teach them peace, love and tolerance.
"We must provide young men and women in the region and across the world, with access to quality education, skills to think critically and with media literacy to denounce hatred.
"Youths must also be equipped with competencies for dialogue, tolerance and aspirations to become global citizens who can advocate peace and security."
Habash said the perception by some people that extremism derives from Islamic countries is wrong because Islam has always been known as a religion of peace and tolerance.
"It is true that most people in Islamic countries are conservative in the sense that they believe in monotheism, but they are tolerant and believe in coexistence with people of other religions.
"No crime and violence are justified in the name of religion. Moderation in Islam and its associated values of humility and compassion are values that the extremists are lacking completely."
He said that nations need to work together in building tolerant and inclusive societies to defeat violent extremism.
UAE's brilliant move
Another panelist, Sanjana Bhardwaj, an education expert from the UAE, said the introduction of moral lessons in all UAE schools was a brilliant move as it is helping to instil tolerance and the culture of coexistence among children.
"It was a great idea for the UAE to introduce moral lessons to public and private schools. Teaching moral subjects to children help to build children's character, discipline and tolerance for a harmonious society," she said.
"True change happens within the classroom and not from outside, and this is because of the power of a teacher. And with great focus on schools teaching moral subjects, children learn discipline, tolerance, forgiveness, kindness, peaceful coexistence with each other, thereby achieving peace and harmony in society."
Maqsoud Kruse, the executive director of Hedayah, the International Centre of Excellence for Countering Violent Extremism in UAE, said youths play a big role in society and in designing the future. So it is very important to engage them in the fight against extremism through education about the values of peace and tolerance.
"There is need for action to engage entire society to reach out to youth, using all means including social media, combined with strong leadership and institutions to guide them towards good morals and accepting one another.
"People with extremism ideologies feel that they are the only ones with the right to live or exist which is very wrong. This is why it's important to educate youngsters about the negative effects of such ideologies and the importance of coexistence."

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