In an open briefing on 30 September 2014 held at the United Nations in New York, the Security Council Counter-Terrorism Committee (CTC) discussed Countering incitement to commit terrorist acts motivated by extremism and intolerance: the Kingdom of Morocco’s approach and experiences of other African States.
H.E. Ambassador Raimonda Murmokaitë, Chair of the Counter-Terrorism Committee and Permanent Representative of Lithuania to the United Nations, recalled the origins of the theme of this open briefing: during the Committee’s 2013 visit to the Kingdom of Morocco, it had identified Morocco’s national strategy to promote dialogue among civilizations as a good practice to be shared among other States.
“Whether in developing or developed States, religious leaders can play a pivotal role in creating an environment of peaceful coexistence. By promoting intrareligious and interreligious reflection and dialogue, governments can help build trust within societies and within public institutions,” said the Chair.
The role of religious institutions falls within the scope of Security Council resolution 1624 from 2005, as it targets in particular the threat of terrorism incitement, and calls upon States to counter incitement and prevent the subversion of religious institutions by terrorist and their supporters. In its resolution 2178 adopted on 24 September 2014, the Council stressed that countering violent extremism was essential to addressing the threat posed by foreign terrorist fighters and encouraged States to empower religious leaders in developing strategies to counter the violent extremist narrative.
Mr. Jeffrey Feltman, Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs, speaking on behalf of Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, said that the evolution of the terrorist threat in new and unpredictable directions was among the most serious challenges faced by the international community. The actions of the international community must address the immediate security challenges, the political context, and underlying long-term grievances. They must also be undertaken in accordance with international human rights and humanitarian law, he stressed.
H.E. Mr. Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser, United Nations High Representative for the Alliance of Civilizations, noted that the Security Council in its recently adopted resolution 2178 (2014) for the first time had underscored the importance of countering violent extremism as a key element in effective responses to the phenomenon of foreign terrorist fighters.
H.E. Mr. Nasser Bourita, Secretary-General of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Kingdom of Morocco, underscored Morocco’s commitment to counter-terrorism and its firm belief that the fight against terrorism was a collective endeavour of all members of the international community. Morocco’s approach to counter-terrorism, he said, was (i) pragmatic, in so far as it was adaptable to the evolving situation on the ground; (ii) coherent, in that initiatives at the national level were compatible with regional and international efforts; and (iii) global, in the sense that it represented a comprehensive approach that included security measures, socio-economic development, and the religious dimension. Political stability and good security governance were indispensable, but there was also a need to strengthen efforts to fight poverty, inequality and social exclusion.
H.E. Mr. Ahmed Toufik, Minister of Habous and Islamic Affairs of the Kingdom of Morocco, underscored that Morocco’s approach to managing religious affairs in the context of combatting terrorism had not originally been designed specifically to address terrorism, but had proven effective in preventing radicalization and the abuse of religion for terrorist purposes. Morocco’s policy, he said, rested on three pillars. The first was political legitimacy, which was derived from the King’s position as the Commander of the Faithful and the oath of allegiance pledged to him. The second was religious leadership, provided by the High Council for Religious Affairs, which issued fatwas pertaining to political life and social activity and was widely recognized within Moroccan society as the sole authority on such matters. The third was the provision of religious services, which included an emphasis on religious education. Religious scholars therefore guided people towards a moderate understanding of religion and devised fatwas through an institutionalized authority, thereby protecting them from the influence of extremists.
Other speakers on the panel included Mr. Yassine Mansouri, Director General of the Directorate General of Studies and Documentation of the Kingdom of Morocco; H.E. Mr. Thierno Amadou Omar Hass Diallo, Minister of Religious Affairs and Worship of the Republic of Mali; H.E. Mr. Abdellah Jassi, Secretary-General, Ministry of Religious Affairs of the Republic of Guinea; Mr. Cisse Djiguiba, Director-General of La Radio Nationale Islamique Al-Bayane, Côte d’Ivoire; and H.E. Mr. Shaykh Abdallah bin Bayyah, Founder and President of the Abu Dhabi-based Forum for Promoting Peace in Muslim Societies.
Following the question and answer session, Mr. Jean-Paul Laborde, CTED Executive Director, closed the open briefing, inter alia underlining that “In order to effectively counter the extremism and intolerance that drove incitement to commit terrorism, it is important to address the conditions conducive to the spread and incitement of terrorism.”