Bangladeshi diaspora, European politicians, migrant and human rights activists have underscored the need to forge more concerted efforts and work together with the governments concerned to stop violent extremism across the globe.
They made their observations while speaking at an international conference, organized by European Bangladesh Forum (EBF), a Bangladeshi diaspora organization based in Europe.
The conference on “Bangladesh and South Asia: Security Challenges and Threats from Violent Extremism and Role of Government and Civil Society” was held in in the European Press Club in Brussels on Thursday, according to a press release.
Speakers in the conference said that ‘none is free from extremist threats in this globalized world and dialogue is the one of the main solutions to counter it.’
A total 65 representatives from civil society, social and human rights organization, media outlets, researchers, development activists, European politicians, professionals from Bangladesh, Belgium, The Netherlands, Switzerland, Germany and the United Kingdom took part in the conference.
European Bangladesh Forum President Ansar Ahmed Ullah presided over the conference.
In the conference speakers stressed, in the age of globalization now the threats and challenges of violent extremism including all religion and racial conflicts cannot remain limited only in the South Asia or in any region, rather its destructive impacts equally threat the people of the USA and Europe at the same level.
‘Hence we have to work together to stop the violence and extremism with long term integrated plan,’ they added.
EBF Vice President Bikash Chowdhury Barua presented welcome address in the conference.
In the opening session of the conference noted development activist and human rights activist from Bangladesh Asif Munier present key-note 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 talk 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 talk on Islamism, Religious Intolerance and Outgroup Hostility between Bangladesh and Europe.
Asian Head of Germany international broadcaster Deutsche Welle Debarati Guha addressed the occasion as guest of honour.
The technical session was chaired by EBF Advisor Dr Ahmed Ziauddin, while renowned British Political Analyst and Journalist and Recipient of ‘Friend of Bangladesh Award’ Chris Blackburn talked on Lifting the Veil: Radicalism in Bangladesh.
Member of the European Parliament from Italy Brando Benifei and the Member of Parliament from the Netherlands Niels van den Berge 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 Ahmadia Group Kawsar Ahmed, President of Secular Forum Switzerland Khalilur Rahman Chowdhury, Writer Priojit Debsarkar, community leader from Belgium Bazlur Rashid Bulu, community leaders from Germany Rokeya Sultana Rothe and Kamal Bhuya took part in the discussion.
Speakers called for mutual understanding, respect, integration to the mainstream society and sense of belongingness with respect and dignity especially for the young communities in the global communities including the European and Asian society to prevent the involvement of the youth members with the extremist groups.
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 communities have become prey to the violent activities.”
Under these circumstances initiatives have to be adopted to stand beside the young people to increase their sense of respectful belongingness, he added.
The speakers warned that not any particular religion should be tagged with the violent extremism increasing the fire of racial and class conflicts among different religious groups. Rather they urged the strategy of setting all groups in the table of dialogue to prevent the tendency of extremism in the concerned region.
Dutch MP Niels van den Berge in his speech said that it would not bring any solution, if the vulnerable and threatening groups were kept and left behind in seclusion.
“Unlike they should be brought to the table of mediation and dialogue to bring them back to the mainstream society. There is no alternative of dialogue to ensure the peace in the society,” mentioned the young Dutch MP.