“Dialogue in charity and truth”:
It’s the recipe of Mounir Farag, Egyptian surgeon, regional Counsellor for Health Strategy and Systems at WHO- EMRO, University Professor at Senghor University in Alexandria and in all French-speaking Countries, to address Jihadi ideology and counter the threat of terrorism, whose roots are found in “radical political Islamism based on the interpretation by the Muslim Brotherhood and Salafi Jihadis of some of the verses of the Quran Medina Surahs (Medina scriptures abrogate the older Meccan surahs).” Unquestionably, reiterated Farag, who is also an ordinary member of the Pontifical Academy for life,
These are “minority groups with economic power and excellent organization capacities, and thus have the tools to manipulate people’s minds, especially the poorest brackets, the socially and culturally deprived, to the extent of driving them to commit heinous deeds.”
Which Middle East? The reflections of the physician who served WHO for years in global hot spots and survived two terror attacks – in Afghanistan and Islamabad (Pakistan), in September 2008, when a car bomb destroyed Marriot Hotel – shared during an informal meeting with the press promoted by the Focolari Information Service, begins with the latest developments in Kurdistan, Iraq and Syria.
First of all Kurdistan, at a crossroads after the independence referendum: “The possible scenario is that of a State formed by the Kurdish areas of Iraq, Turkey, Syria and Iran. This scenario would lead to chaos, since none of those Countries is willing to lose part of their territories. In my opinion the best option would be the Kurds’ recognition inside the respective Countries through trading and cultural, social exchange, with full respect for their rights. As happened in the case of Baghdad’s Central Government and Erbil over the past years.” In the bordering Syria, another conflict zone, “President Assad appears to have defeated Daesh and the rebels thanks to Russia’s support. For the physician, the end of the war will bring many Syrians who had fled to return to their homeland, as is already happening. In Egypt there are approximately 900 thousand Syrian refugees and many of them are returning to Syria. The same is happening in Iraq as regards the refugees and displaced persons that sought refuge in Erbil, after ISIS’ offensive in 2014.”
A worrying return. Farag is worried about the “return” of a specific group: the return of the so-called “foreign fighters” to their respective Countries of departure, also European ones. After having fought for the Caliphate in the Libyan, Iraqi and Syrian militia camps, they could replicate in Europe and in other areas of the world. The terror attacks in France, Belgium, England, Germany and Spain testify to it.
“Some of these repented Daesh militants – Farag said – are under psychological treatment. It won’t be easy to integrate them, but they need to undergo in-depth rehabilitation. Many of these militiamen revealed that they had been indoctrinated to hatred. ‘They exploited our ignorance, poverty and weakness – they told the doctors – they drive us to hate even our closest family members.”
For Farag terrorism should be addressed with a far-reaching approach, taking into due account the phenomenon of refugees arriving into Europe, that could include “also people who became radicalized and that could pose a threat if they are not involved in dialogue and welcome based on charity and truth.” Dialogue should be conducted against the ideology that politicizes Islam and the Medina Surahs of the Quran. “The groups that profess this doctrine – the Egyptian physician pointed out – should be told that we are aware of the threat they represent. This doesn’t mean being Islamophobic – Farag pointed out – however
We should avoid the ‘laissez faire’ approach, for it would ultimately produce Daesh-affiliated youths.
It already happened”. In concrete terms, we ought to “monitor education centres, mosques and institutes for Islamic studies and ensure that they are directed by moderate Muslims tasked with an active role. The same dialogue should bring us together in our daily lives, in scientific and working environments, in the realms of education, health and training. It is necessary to start at grassroots level. Theological, ideological dialogue alone, which often fuels misunderstandings, is not enough. We need a ‘dialogue of life.’” The dialogue “in charity and truth” must include families and “education to peace, of which media outlets that spread and make visible positive experiences of dialogue, are helpful allies.”
“Today in Europe many Christians families leave their children free of baptism. I consider it a serious mistake because these youths will grow up without an identity. Before being afraid of radical Islam, that does exist, of its strategies and political action, we should ask ourselves whether we have fulfilled our duties as a Church, as a family, as a movement, as a society. We should make an examination of conscience. Indoctrination is also facilitated by the ongoing identity crisis in Europe.”