Denouncing Islamic extremists for negating a religion that stands for tolerance, justice and mercy, Egyptian President Abdel Fatah el-Sisi took to the podium of the General Assembly today to call on the United Nations and its Member States to join him in a proactive strategy to defeat terrorism.
“Counterterrorism efforts so far have relied solely on defensive reaction, focusing on defending the present,” he told world leaders on the opening day of the week-long 70th annual General Debate in a speech which dwelt on the extremists’ threats to the Arab world, from Libya, Syria, Iraq and Yemen to Egypt itself.
“It is our belief in Egypt that the Middle East and the world at large are confronted with a perilous danger and are in dire need of a model that presents new prospects for our youth, providing them with opportunities for a brighter future. They must be shown that, with diligent work, they can participate in crafting this future.”
Those who claim to have a monopoly in interpreting Islam are merely propagating their own prejudiced interpretation of the religion, he said.
“There is no doubt that more than 1.5 billion Muslims refuse to subscribe to the views of this small minority that claims to speak on their behalf and seeks, through violence and extremism, to marginalize and silence all who oppose it,” he declared.
At the same time he decried prejudice against Muslims, which played into the hands of extremists since they seek to create a fissure between Muslims and the rest of the world.
“We have all witnessed Libya's descent along a downward spiral when the forces of extremism announced their presence through actions that contradict the principles of Islam and humanity,” he said, citing the slaughter of Egyptians in Libya earlier this year.
“We have also observed how extremists exploited the legitimate aspirations of the Syrian people to drag this brotherly nation into conflict, in order to achieve their intentions to exclude anyone but themselves.”
Mr. Sisi also called for empowering the Palestinian people to exercise their right to self-determination and to an independent state within the borders existing before the 1967 six-day war with East Jerusalem as its capital.
“[This] will effectively eliminate one of the most important factors contributing to the region's instability and one of the most dangerous pretexts used to justify extremism and terrorism,” he said.