Expert says poverty makes youth vulnerable to terror


Some Muslim youths in African countries are often lured into joining extremist groups because they are poor and unemployed.

Poverty, ignorance and increased unemployment make Muslim youths in Africa vulnerable to extremist activities as terrorist groups like Al Shabaab often recruit the youngsters and use them in terror activities after promising them money, said a lecturer from an Ugandan university.

Ebraheem Ssali, lecturer of Arabic language at Makerere University in Kampala, Uganda and the executive secretary of the African Forum for Muslim Councils (AFMC) – a religious body for uniting all Muslim councils in Africa, told Khaleej Times on the sidelines of the International Muslim Minorities Congress (IMMC) in Abu Dhabi that some Muslim youths in African countries such as Somalia, Kenya, Nigeria and others are often lured into joining extremist groups because they are poor and unemployed, and also lack basic knowledge about their religion.

“There is an urgent need to help the Muslim youths in Africa through education and sensitisation so that they learn more about the values of the religion like peace and tolerance, and the dangers of extremism and radicalism,” he said.

According to Ssali, among the main challenges faced by Muslim minorities in many African countries are the lack of adequate education services, youth unemployment and discrimination by governments. The UAE had in April launched a global committee to help tackle problem of millions of Muslim minorities around the world who face discrimination by helping bridge the gap between the Muslims and the governments.

Called the International Muslim Minorities Congress (IMMC), the platform based in Abu Dhabi is headed by the Muslim Council of Elders and will comprise representatives from 140 countries.

Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, Minister of Tolerance, on Tuesday told the audience that Abu Dhabi establishes itself as the world’s capital of tolerance and peaceful co-existence by playing host to the world council of Muslim minorities.

“The UAE adopts a forward-thinking vision based on considering that cultural pluralism and peaceful co-existence between all segments of society are prerequisites for development, progress and stability. In the UAE, we are benefiting from the moderate nature of Islam to convey a message of tolerance through our media and educational institutions. All nations should embrace the same,” Sheikh Nahyan told the conference.

Ssali, who was among the Ugandan delegates who gathered along with other Muslim leaders and government officials at the two-day conference, said the International Muslim Minorities Congress would help tackle problems facing Muslim minorities in Africa and other parts of the world.

“Young African Muslim men and women need to be engaged in Islamic activities and capacity building through training on vocational and technical skills that help them get employment,” he said.

Ssali noted that through the African Forum for Muslim Councils (AFMC), Muslim leaders in Africa are trying to help educate Muslim youths on the basic principles and values of the religion through lectures in colleges and universities, mosques and organising community development workshops.

“The AFMC also brings together Muslims institutions in various African countries and address challenging facing Muslims to find lasting solutions,” he said.

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