Ansar Ahmed Ullah:
Brussels, October 3: An international conference titled “Bangladesh and South Asia: Security Challenges and Threats from Violent Extremism and Role of Government and Civil Society” was held in Brussels, the capital of Belgium on Thursday 3 October.
European Bangladesh Forum (EBF) had organised this conference at the Press Club Brussels Europe with EBF President Ansar Ahmed Ullah in the Chair. In the conference speakers stressed, in the age of globalization, now the threats and challenges of violent extremism is no longer limited only in the South Asia or in any one region, rather its destructive impacts equally affect the people of the USA and Europe. Hence, we have to work together to stop the violent extremism with long term integrated plan, they added.
EBF Vice President Bikash Chowdhury Barua gave welcome address. In the opening session of the conference noted development & 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 paper 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 paper on Islamism, Religious Intolerance and Outgroup Hostility between Bangladesh and Europe. Asian Head of Germany’s Deutsche Welle, Debarati Guha also addressed the occasion.
The second session was chaired by EBF Advisor Dr Ahmed Ziauddin, while renowned British Political analyst & recipient of Friend of Bangladesh Chris Blackburn presented paper on Lifting the Veil: Radicalism in Bangladesh. Member of the European Parliament from Italy Brando Benifei MEP and the Member of Parliament from the Netherlands Niels van den Berge MP also 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 Ahmadiyya community Kawsar Ahmed, President of Secular Forum of Switzerland Rahman Khalilur, UK based writer Priyajit Debsarkar, community leader from Belgium Bazlur Rashid Bulu, community leaders from Germany Rokeya Sultana Rothe and Kamal Bhuya took part in the discussion too.
Speakers urged mutual understanding, respect, integration to the mainstream society and sense of belonging to prevent diaspora youth being drawn 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 have fallen prey to violent activities. Under these circumstances initiatives have to be adopted to stand beside the young people to increase their sense of respectful belongingness.’
Speakers also warned that no particular religion should be tagged with violent extremism which only increases conflicts among different religious groups. Rather they urged dialogue to prevent the tendency of extremism in the concerned region.
Dutch MP Niels van den Berge in his speech said, ‘It will not bring any solution, if the vulnerable and threatening groups are kept and left behind in seclusion. They should be brought to the table of mediation and dialogue to bring them back to the mainstream society.’ There is no alternative to dialogue to ensure peace in the society, mentioned Dutch MP.
Representatives from civil society, social and human rights organisation, media outlets, researchers, development activists, European politicians, professionals from Bangladesh, Belgium, The Netherlands, Switzerland, Germany and the United Kingdom took part in the conference.