Egypt’s Pres Mansour calls on Arab leaders to fight terrorism, extremism and illiteracy

Ahram Online, Tuesday 25 Mar 2014

Mansour's speech at Arab League summit focuses mostly on terrorism, but also urges attendees to tackle illiteracy and 'extremist ideologies'

Adly Mansour
Egypt's interim president Adly Mansour attends the 25th Arab Summit in Kuwait City, March 25, 2014 (Photo: Reuters)

In his speech Tuesday at the Arab League summit in Kuwait, Egypt's interim President Adly Mansour called on his Arab counterparts to join in the fight against terrorism.

Terrorism is "threatening the whole region," said Mansour, but he insisted that terrorist groups would only make their opponents "more determined to uproot them."

Mansour urged those attending the summit to reactivate the Arab Convention on the Suppression of Terrorism, an anti-terrorism pact signed in 1998 by 18 out of 22 members of the Arab League, but which has never been enforced.

Mansour suggested that a meeting be held before June with Arab justice ministers and interior ministers to gauge how much of the pact is currently being implemented.

The pact stipulates that signatories must not give shelter to terrorists, Mansour noted, which means that Arab states must hand over persons for whom Egypt has issued arrest warrants.

Many leaders of the now-outlawed Muslim Brotherhood have used Qatar as a refuge from an ongoing security crackdown on its members by Egyptian authorities.

On 14 March, two Brotherhood leaders were arrested by INTERPOL in Kuwait and Saudi Arabia – both strong backers of Egypt’s interim authorities and adamant critics of ousted president Mohamed Morsi.

During his 29-minute speech, Mansour dwelled mostly on terrorism. However, he also spoke of the Syrian and Palestinian conflicts – key points of this year's summit.

"We are exerting efforts to mediate between different opposition forces in Syria in order to reach a unified vision towards a political solution," the only kind of solution which will end the Syrian conflict, Mansour said.

Mansour further affirmed that the Palestinian conflict remains one of the main challenges to the region, expressing his full support to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and for the need to end the Israeli occupation and return to the pre-1967 Palestine with east Jerusalem as its capital.

He also slammed Israeli's assault on the Gaza Strip, calling on "human rights defenders to play their role in lifting the misery from Palestinians in Gaza."

Beyond these conflicts, Mansour also highlighted two other problems in the region: illiteracy and extremism.

The next 10 years should be dedicated to eradicating illiteracy from the region, Mansour proposed, with the first step being a meeting in the next two months between Arab education ministers for the purpose of implementing an agenda.

As for extremism, Mansour suggested that Arab countries adopt a unified strategy to confront "extremist ideology."

Stressing that terrorism cannot be faced with just security solutions, Mansour offered that a meeting be held at the Bibliotheca Alexandrina to host intellectuals and experts to develop a framework to defy extremist thinking.

Egypt has been rocked by a wave of militant attacks on police and army targets since Morsi's ouster on 3 July, sparked by a subsequent crackdown on his supporters.

Bombings and shootings in the volatile Sinai Peninsula, and more recently in Cairo and the Nile Delta, have killed tens of security personnel.

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