Keep Our Children from Embracing Terrorist Ideology

February 16, 2009

Following are excerpt from the article:(1)

"In Order to Keep Our Children from Embracing Terrorist Ideology, We Need to Block the Entryways that Lead to It"

"Every time the Saudi Interior Ministry issues a new list of names of people wanted for planning terrorist activities, my thoughts immediately jump to their good, peaceful families. I imagine their sadness, their trauma, their torn emotions, and their feelings of shame at this humiliation, which is published everywhere.

"But, in truth, what occurs concerns not only these families, but all of us as a society. If we examine the wanted lists, and especially the latest one, we see many tribal and family names that relate to us and are an expression of us. They are names [borne by] our friends, our brothers, or our relatives. In fact, there is not a single family name, large or small, that has not appeared [on these lists].

"This emphasizes the fact that the problem of terrorism is not one that concerns just a particular group or region, and is not limited to the families [of those on the list]. They should not blame themselves too much, since the problem is the problem of all of us, as a society, and we need to rid ourselves of it once and for all so that none of our children fall into it again.

"In order to keep our children from embracing terrorist ideology, we need to block the entryways that lead to it. Unfortunately, despite the self-evident nature of this conclusion, we have long opened these entryways that prepare the way for our children to embrace violent and extremist ideas. Thus, it is important for us to acknowledge our grave errors so as not to fall into them again and so as not to entangle more generations of our children in extremist ideas that lead them to terrorist organizations.

"In truth, I think that it is we - fathers, mothers, brothers, and friends - who need to accomplish this change, since I see no true changes occurring on the ground in order to fight the spread of these extremist ideas."

We Must Teach Our Children Religious Tolerance - "To Love All and Harbor Hatred Towards None"

"How can you prevent your son from becoming a terrorist?! It may be assumed that fathers and mothers ask themselves this question when they watch their tender, beautiful little children playing in front of them. Fathers, mothers, and brothers need to know that the only thing that can prevent these children from turning into extremists or terrorists when they grow up is to immunize them through a strong and profound intellectual culture characterized by rationalism, tolerance, love for others, and the desire to integrate with them. They need to do this themselves, in a constant and uninterrupted fashion, and not to rely on anyone [else to do it for them]. In fact, it is better for them not to rely on any of the elements responsible for forming minds among us, such as schools and clubs, since these have been proven to be harmful, and to be one the fundamental reasons that pushed children towards the hostile way of thinking that leads to terrorism.

"Most of the families whose children got involved in extremism or terrorism did not provide an answer to the important question [of how to keep their children from becoming terrorists]. They even encouraged - though out of good intentions - their children to embrace extremist thinking by leaving them as easy prey for the extremist groups [that are present] in some schools and mosques, and in the streets. Or [they encouraged them], through their own support for extremist ideas. This is something that exists among us all; many of us grew up in homes that didn't believe in the values of tolerance and coexistence, but rather believe in hatred for anyone who differs from us in religion, sect, or way of thinking.

"[If there is] an intellectual climate within the home and outside it that fills the youth's minds with extremist ideas, the question of a youth becoming a terrorist is a distinct possibility, and he is primed for any organization or group that [might] enlist him and lead to his death, either inside or outside Saudi Arabia.

"If we want to protect our young children from one day becoming fanatics or terrorists, we need to provide them with a completely new culture that is radically different than the religious, intellectual, and social culture that has dominated us for many decades, and still does. Instead of teaching your children hostility, or letting someone else teach them hostility, towards those of other religions, teach [them] religious tolerance, which will [ensure that while] they differ from others in religion, they will share with them their common humanity…

"If he listens to the imam at the mosque praying at the top of his voice for [Allah] to destroy [others], ask him to forget what he heard, and to remember to love all and harbor hatred towards none, and [tell him] that the values that [should] motivate him are those of coexistence and cooperation.

"The families whose children have gotten involved in terrorism responded entirely favorably to this kind of hostile culture, and set extremist individuals as models of what was good and proper for their children.

"If you want to keep your son from being a terrorist, you must teach him to read religious texts not in a fanatical, narrow, and literalist manner, but in a rational manner that is open to changes in reality. The families that lost their children to terrorism abandoned them to those who inculcate in them extremist thoughts based on their extremist and ideological view of the Koran and the sunna. [For them,] one hadith or one Koranic verse read and interpreted in an extremist manner becomes an expression of the essence of the religion, whereas the [true] essence of the religion is love, mercy towards one another, humility, and high moral standards."

"People Who Respect Human Worth and Liberty Do Not Become Terrorists"

"If you want to keep your son from being a terrorist, you need to get him to be open towards other cultures, to integrate with them, and to learn from them, and [you need] to get him to renounce all of the ideas of [our] dominant culture that declare others to be in error and encourage insularity. In this way, he will learn to respect others' beliefs and ideas, and will renounce the view of himself as the only one who is correct and pure in the world. You can make him see that reality is based on the coexistence of humans and cultures, with all their differences, and that insular and extremist beliefs and cultures eventually prove to be failures, and come to an end. He can feel the value of interconnectedness through the medicine that heals him, the care that transports him, and even the food that he prefers.

"You can inculcate your son with concepts that respect the worth of humans - male and female - whatever their country, their religion, or their culture. It is entirely certain that people who respect human worth and liberty do not become terrorists.

"You can make your son not sanctify individuals and not be deceived by their appearances. You can make him have an independent mentality and a strong personality that will prevent the inciters and leaders of terrorism from [getting him to] kill himself and harm his country, while they enjoy lives of ease and send their children to study abroad.

"You can make him see that his value as a human is in life, love, and building - and not in death, hatred, and destruction. This kind of culture that is based on tolerance, rationalism, and respect for human worth is the only way for us good and peaceful families to prevent our children from becoming fanatics and then terrorists. It is the only path that will make it so that no mother or father will be traumatized, torn apart, and feel shame, asking themselves: My son is a terrorist - how did this happen?"

(1) Al-Riyadh (Saudi Arabia), February 6, 2009.

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