NCW urges women to combat extremism

Jan 26, 2015 at 12:00 AM


Eurasia News – Egyptian women gathered at a Cairo conference this week to encourage women to play an active role in combating violence and extremism in the country and Arab world.

The National Council for Women conference, which was attended by representatives of all ministries, official institutions and the judiciary, as well as the heads of political parties and a large number of writers, intellectuals and artists, was titled “She and Terrorism” and discussed how to activate the role of women in carrying out anti-violence and anti-extremism policies.

The conference concluded with the launch of a republic-wide comprehensive awareness campaign to mobilise efforts in support of the role of women in combating terrorism.

It presented a number of recommendations, key among them the affirmation that “Egyptian and Arab women are the first line of defence of national security because they play the principal role in combating terrorism, especially as women and children are the most affected by its consequences.”

The conference also recommended renewing the religious discourse and raising awareness about the status of women in Islam, in addition to promoting the role of research and media centres in expanding intellectual production in the field of counter-terrorism policies, “upholding citizenship and tolerance, and achieving greater equality between the sexes”.

Ambassador Mervat el-Tallawy, president of the National Council for Women, told Al-Shorfa on the side-lines of the conference that the conference aimed to produce recommendations and urge all state institutions to involve women in counter-terrorism efforts in an effective manner.

“Women play a key role in teaching children correct non-extremist thinking and love of country, and are capable of raising new generations with new ideas,” she said.

Safeguarding Egyptian national security against terrorism is a duty and an important mission for women, she said, so they may be able to “build a generation that is capable of meeting the challenges surrounding society, the most serious of which are the terrorism phenomenon and takfiri thought”.

Women can fulfil this role if they are empowered politically, economically and socially, she added.

Advocacy caravans

Egypt’s Minister of Religious Endowments, Mohammed Mokhtar Gomaa, said in his speech at the conference that the ministry, the authority that governs advocacy in Egypt, “is keen on the role of women in confronting terrorism” and has opened Islamic advocacy positions to female graduates of Al-Azhar University — an effort to encourage them to disseminate the moderate teachings of Islam.

Boosting Islamic advocacy with sermons will contribute to the dissemination of moderate Islam, which fights extremist takfiri views, he said.

He added that the ministry regularly sends advocacy caravans across Egypt to conduct dialogue with young men and women at universities and youth centres to raise awareness about the dangers of terrorism and takfiri thought and how they can protect themselves.

“Counter-terrorism policies must evolve to keep pace with the tactics of radical groups in conducting operations, most importantly recruitment [tactics],” said Maj. Gen. Sameh Seif al-Yazal, director of Al-Gomhouria Centre for Strategic Studies.

Many of the young members of such groups are recruited online, he told Al-Shorfa, and therefore every family and mother must protect her children from being drawn to extremist ideas through dialogue, constant discussion and open debate about all the ideas to which they may be exposed.

Empowering women

Amna Nosseir, a professor of Islamic philosophy at Al-Azhar University and member of the National Council for Women, called for the political and social empowerment of educated Egyptian and Arab women so they can effectively contribute to defeating extremist thought through improving school curricula at all academic levels.

Women can also contribute to spreading awareness about correct and moderate Islamic thought via campaigns conducted across the country targeting low-income citizens in rural areas, she said.

In such areas, Nosseir added, women are marginalised and “obtaining their support in the fight against terrorism is half the battle in stopping the spread of extremist thought amongst the rural populace”.

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