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Terrorism can never be justified, participants at joint UN conference conclude

Terrorism can never be justified, participants at joint UN conference conclude

An international counter-terrorism conference in Tunis co-sponsored by the United Nations has wrapped up with participants stressing that no motive can ever justify acts of terrorism and that Islam should not be blamed for the phenomenon.

Nearly 200 people – representing all continents, as well as international organizations, research institutes and civil society – spent three days in the Tunisian capital, from 15 to 17 November, in discussions on a series of terrorism-related issues, including an examination of conditions conducive to terrorism, promoting education to prevent the phenomenon, encouraging greater inter-faith dialogue and the role of international and specialized organizations.

The conference, called Terrorism: Dimensions, Threats and Countermeasures, was jointly organized by the UN’s Department of Political Affairs in collaboration with the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) and its Islamic Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (ISESCO). It was hosted by the Tunisian Government and held under the high patronage of Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, President of Tunisia.

In the official concluding observations Saturday, a co-chair, Tunisian Culture and Preservation of Heritage Minister Mohamed El Aziz Ben Achour, said the prevailing view of participants “was that terrorism and extremism constitute a threat to the peace, security and stability of all countries and peoples.”

He added: “Terrorism has no justification, no matter what pretext terrorists may use for their deeds.”

Participants agreed that terrorism flourishes in environments where there is discontent, exclusion, humiliation, poverty, political oppression and human rights abuses, as well as in countries engaged in regional conflicts.

“It profits from weak State capacity to maintain law and order,” Mr. Ben Achour said. “These vulnerable areas are exploited by terrorists to mobilize recruits and justify violence. None of the religions are a cause of political radicalism and extremism. Religious doctrine may be ‘tools of mobilization,’ rather than a direct cause.”

The participants said it was important for the international community to counter the spread of Islamophobia, which it noted has been growing in recent years in part because of misinformation and misperceptions about the religion.

“The emergence of misguided groups that have deviated from the straight path to fanaticism, violence and extremism, attributing their acts to Islam, in no way justifies associating this phenomenon with the Islamic faith. True Islam is the religion of moderation and avoidance of excess, founded on the values of equality, justice, peace and brotherhood.”

The conference also backed the need for measures aimed at tackling conditions conducive to terrorism, such as poverty and unemployment.

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon addressed the conference at its opening last Thursday, saying that the UN’s 192 Member States made history just over one year ago when they adopted the Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy as a guide for international activities to counter terrorism.

“Yet our work together is just beginning,” he said. “Now we must implement the Strategy in all its dimensions. By next September, when the General Assembly meets to review implementation of the strategy, we must all have concrete progress to show – Member States, the UN system, and our key partners in regional and other organizations.”