'Long-term plan needed to stop violent extremism' | The Daily Star
10:32 AM, October 06, 2019 / LAST MODIFIED: 10:37 AM, October 06, 2019

Long-term plan needed to stop violent extremism, Speakers say at Brussels conference

Stressing the necessity to stop violent extremism with long-term integrated plan, speakers at a conference in Belgium said that the threat is no longer limited in South Asia, rather Europe and the US are also affected by its destructive impacts.

The international conference titled 'Bangladesh and South Asia: Security Challenges and Threats from Violent Extremism and Role of Government and Civil Society' was held in Brussels last Thursday, reads a press release.

The speakers said that mutual understanding and respect should be integrated into the society, and sense of belonging should be developed to prevent diaspora youth being drawn towards extremist groups, the press release said.

Member of the European Parliament Benifei said, "As the second and third generation of the immigrant families in Europe and especially in Italy cannot integrate themselves in the mainstream society and at the same time because of the attractive offer of the extremist groups, the young have fallen prey to violent activities. Under these circumstances initiatives have to be adopted to stand beside the young people to increase their sense of respectful belongingness."

European Bangladesh Forum (EBF) organised this conference at the Press Club Brussels Europe with EBF President Ansar Ahmed Ullah in the chair. 

EBF Vice President Bikash Chowdhury Barua gave welcome address. In the opening session of the conference noted development and human rights activist from Bangladesh Asif Munier presented the keynote paper on “Rise of Violent Extremism and Instability in South Asia including Bangladesh: Key Threats, Challenges and Way Forward." 

Associate Member of the South Asia Institute from the University of Heidelberg, Germany Dr Wolfgang-Peter Zingel presented paper on the Political Economy of Violence in the South Asia and Visiting Fellow of Wilfried Martens Centre for European Studies in Brussels Dr Tommaso Virgili presented paper on Islamism, Religious Intolerance and Outgroup Hostility between Bangladesh and Europe. Asian Head of Germany’s Deutsche Welle, Debarati Guha also addressed the occasion.

The second session was chaired by EBF Advisor Dr Ahmed Ziauddin, while renowned British Political analyst & recipient of Friend of Bangladesh Chris Blackburn presented paper on Lifting the Veil: Radicalism in Bangladesh. Member of the European Parliament from Italy Brando Benifei MEP and the Member of Parliament from the Netherlands Niels van den Berge MP also addressed the session.

Among others, First Secretary of Bangladesh Embassy in Brussels Fakhruddin Ahmed, Belgium Coordinator of Global Solidarity for Peace M M Murshed, noted community leader Dr Farouque Mirza, Dutch Representative from Ahmadiyya community Kawsar Ahmed, President of Secular Forum of Switzerland Rahman Khalilur, UK based writer Priyajit Debsarkar, community leader from Belgium Bazlur Rashid Bulu, community leaders from Germany Rokeya Sultana Rothe and Kamal Bhuya took part in the discussion too.   

Speakers also warned that no particular religion should be tagged with violent extremism which only increases conflicts among different religious groups. Rather they urged dialogue to prevent the tendency of extremism in the concerned region.

Dutch MP Niels van den Berge in his speech said, "It will not bring any solution, if the vulnerable and threatening groups are kept and left behind in seclusion. They should be brought to the table of mediation and dialogue to bring them back to the mainstream society." 

There is no alternative to dialogue to ensure peace in the society, mentioned the Dutch MP.

Representatives from civil society, social and human rights organisation, media outlets, researchers, development activists, European politicians, professionals from Bangladesh, Belgium, The Netherlands, Switzerland, Germany and the United Kingdom took part in the conference.

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