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Role of Youth in Countering Terrorism

Botschaft Usbekistan, June 19, 2018

For two days last week, Tashkent and Samarkand hosted an extensively represented international conference “The Role of Youth in Preventing and Countering Violent Extremism and Radicalization Leading to Terrorism”.

The event was organized by the Senate of the Oliy Majlis of the Republic of Uzbekistan jointly with the Project Coordinator of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) in Uzbekistan, and the United Nations. Delegations from the United States, Britain, Germany, Spain, the Netherlands, Latvia, Russia, China, India, Japan, Malaysia, Kuwait, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Afghanistan, foreign experts, as well as senators, deputies, activists of the Union of Youth of Uzbekistan, scientists, and journalists took part in the forum.

The participants discussed political and legal basis of combating violent extremism and radicalization that lead to terrorism among the youth, increasing the growing generation’s role in the process, consolidation of cooperation between the state and civil society, prevention of propaganda of such vices on the internet and the media, as well as building up consensus of the Central Asian nations in the field of science, culture, sports in order to prevent the younger generation ending up in the influence of those who are engaged in terrorism and violent extremism.

At present, violent extremism and terrorism lead to the emergence of certain threats to the stable development and interethnic harmony in the world. And this involves joint efforts to find ways to eliminate them. For these purposes, a number of projects have been implemented in recent years, contact groups are being established.

Uzbekistan views the fight against extremism and radicalism as an important condition for ensuring global security, and is a constant participant and initiator of this process.

The President of Uzbekistan Shavkat Mirziyoyev repeatedly pointed out from high tribunes that the basis of international terrorism and extremism are, along with other factors, ignorance and intolerance, and the most critical task is to create awareness and education of young people through enlightenment.

In particular, in September 2017, the head of our state, during his speech at the 72nd session of the UN General Assembly, stressed that ensuring conditions for the self-realization of youth would create a barrier to the spread of the ‘virus’ of the ideology of violence. In order to develop multilateral cooperation for social support of the younger generation, protection of its rights and interests, it was proposed to devise a UN International Convention on the Rights of Youth.

In their speeches the participants of the international conference noted that this forum offers great opportunities for the joint efforts of the regional and international level in the development of comprehensive measures to combat factors leading to terrorism among the younger generation.

In order to counter these factors, the relevant decisions of the UN, OSCE and several other international organizations have been adopted. These documents provide for the implementation of a large-scale international mechanism to combat the propaganda of terrorism. This, in turn, contributes to the development of national action programs and the development of youth policy.

“The elaboration of such programs is important,” said Shelley Inglis, head of the cluster of the UN regional office in Istanbul. “Peoples and nations of the world are distinct with their peculiarities in culture, language, religion and way of life. Also, those who fall under the influence of violent extremism and terrorism have their own approaches. Therefore, it is necessary to jointly combat this vice by devising national programs and strategies in the context of regions. Currently, more than 15 countries have developed their national action programs. In the future, work in this direction will be consistently continued.”

Critical situations, difficult socio-economic state lead to an increase in unemployment among the population. As a result, migration is growing among young people. This is to some extent characteristic of the countries of Central Asia, as well.

The states of our region have similar development trends. Only through the elaboration of integrated optimal measures to prevent violent extremism and radicalization, the expansion of cooperation among governments, the creation of effective immunity among young people against the ideology of extremist activity, can positive results be achieved.

Approaches and proposals in this area were discussed in detail at the general sessions of the conference.

Thus, the state adviser of the President of the Republic of Uzbekistan on youth issues – chairman of the Central Council of the Union of Youth of Uzbekistan Kahramon Kuronboev noted that young people go abroad for various objective and subjective reasons. As a result of migration, in an alien environment with a foreign culture, the young generation falls under the influence of extremists. The main task is to establish constant contact with young people abroad, prevent them from falling under the influence of various perilous groups. In such conditions, the struggle against various manifestations of violent extremism and radicalization becomes more important than ever.

In our country, special attention is paid to the implementation of youth policy. The constructive cooperation established between governments and youth organizations of the countries of Central Asia and neighboring nations is the basis for the actions being implemented in this area.

Media space has long been able to turn into a factor that has a serious impact on the stimulation of certain ideas, values ​​and beliefs. In particular, social networks offer such opportunities. Distributors of destructive ideas use them for their own mercenary purposes.

The internet has turned into the main means for terrorists of searching, hiring, training recruits, collecting money, organizing terrorist acts. New telecommunication technologies provide opportunities for the rapid exchange of information, expanding the range of activities and providing psychological impact.

One of the plenary sessions of the forum was devoted to the prevention of violent extremism on the internet and the media, where an urge was made on the media to promote interethnic harmony, the principle of religious tolerance, and the consolidation of the spirit of mutual respect. Within the framework of the conference, a presentation was made of the information portal on combating extremism - stopterror.uz, created by the Center for Regional Studies of Challenges with the assistance of the OSCE.

On June 12, the international conference continued its work in the city of Samarkand. And that was not accidental. On this sacred land, recognized as the pearl of the East, a crossroads of the Silk Road, the atmosphere of religious tolerance, interethnic unity reigns from time immemorial. A special contribution to the development of the Islamic religion was made by such great scientists as Imam Bukhari, Imam Moturudi, Khoja Ahror Vali. It was here that the first mosque in Central Asia – Khazrati Imam – was built.

At the moment, Samarkand offers ample opportunities for representatives of diverse religions to carry out their religious rituals, preserve their traditions. Representatives of more than 100 ethnic groups and confessions live in the region in an atmosphere of friendship and mutual understanding. About 10 national cultural centers operate.

Contributors to the international conference talked with representatives of the national cultural centers of the region, various religious confessions, got acquainted with their activities.

Then, during a general session, the forum participants discussed Uzbekistan’s experience in interethnic and interreligious relations.

The speeches underlined that in preventing youth from joining the ranks of religious extremist movements, it is necessary to explain to them the true essence of religion, and to raise their knowledge in this sphere. Particular attention was paid to the work carried out in Uzbekistan in this direction. In particular, an exchange of views took place on the political and legal bases for countering violent extremism and radicalization leading to terrorism, the partnership of the state and civil society in this process, and the experience of Uzbekistan in the sphere of interethnic and inter-confessional relations.

“Uzbekistan is a country of great scientists who made a great contribution to the development of holy Islam,” said Mohd Yusuf Khoji bin Usman, director of the Malaysian Institute of Islamic Civilization. “It is recognized by the entire Muslim world. From this point of view, the organization of conference in this country is of historic significance. It is possible to learn the Uzbekistan experience in countering religious extremism and terrorism, effectively using the power of enlightenment and spirituality in protecting young people from these vices. In recent years, such structures as the Center for Islamic Civilization and the International Research Center of Imam Bukhari have been created here that will serve the interests not only of Uzbekistan, but also the people all over the world and help spread the propaganda of kindness, generosity and cohesion that are of great importance in the Islamic religion.”

Participants of the international forum visited the Roman Catholic and Armenian-Apostolic churches in the city of Samarkand. They also made a tour of the historical monuments and shrines downtown.


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