Jordan works to stem spread of extremism

By Mohammed Ghazal in Amman

Jordanian panelists take part in an October 29th workshop to discuss a new national plan to fight extremism on an ideological front. [Photo courtesy of Petra news agency]

Jordanian panelists take part in an October 29th workshop to discuss a new national plan to fight extremism on an ideological front. [Photo courtesy of Petra news agency]

A new strategy put forth by the Jordanian government seeks to prevent extremist ideology from spreading in the kingdom.

As one facet of the war on terrorism is an intellectual and ideological battle, the National Plan to Counter Extremism will be implemented by the Ministry of Endowments, said Minister of Political Development and Parliamentary Affairs Musa Maaytah.

Maaytah made the announcement at the October 29th opening of a workshop to discuss the plan at the Nissan Centre for Political and Parliamentary Development which drew a large number of lawmakers and officials.

He stressed the importance of strengthening the role of all members of society in fighting extremism on an ideological level, adding that civil society organisations must play an active role in the fight against terrorism.

Programmes, workshops and activities offered as part of the plan will seek to correct misconceptions about Islam and expose the falsity of the claims made by extremist groups to be acting in the name of religion, he said.

These events also will focus on societal values such as tolerance, co-existence and acceptance of the views of others, Maaytah said.

Jordanian and Arab media must be galvanised "to counter extremist media , which incite and disseminate hate speech", said Khetam Malkawi, a journalist who specialises in security and counter-terrorism news.

Focus must be placed on the launch of effective social media campaigns, she told Al-Mashareq, noting that there are more than five million Facebook users in Jordan.

Laws that criminalise incitement and the online dissemination of extremist ideology also must be more stringently enforced, she said.

Empowering young people

"The efforts to fight terrorism ideologically and militarily must be accompanied by vigorous efforts to harness the potential of the youth and provide them with economic opportunities," Jordanian economist Husam Ayesh told Al-Mashareq.

"The latest official figures show that unemployment among the youth in Jordan has risen dramatically," he said.

"This is a serious indicator that calls for greater efforts to empower the youth economically and thereby inoculate them against any potential threat they may face and keep them from going astray," he added.

Government statistics reveal that Jordan's unemployment rate rose to 15.8% in the third quarter of 2016, the highest in 15 years.

Of the approximately 402,584 who are without work, the segment with the highest unemployment rate is the 15 to 24 age group (49.7%), most of whom are university and institute graduates.

Focus also must be placed on the role of the family in preventing the propagation of violent extremist ideology, University of Jordan sociology professor Hussein Khazai told Al-Mashareq.

"The family is the first line of defence against terrorism, and women have a primary role in this regard," he said.

"The ideological war is more important than the military one with regard to drying up the sources of terrorism and extremism," he said, adding that "the responsibility also falls to educational and religious institutions".

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