Role of Youth in Countering Violent Extremism

by Gholamali Khoshroo
29 April 2015
Today, young people are in a paradoxical situation in relation to Islam and the West. This critical situation is rooted in two realities that are seemingly contradictory but inherently complementary. On the one hand, we witness the expansion of extremism and terrorism which could be observed as much in some western capitals as in villages in some Islamic countries. On the other hand, Islamophobia is spreading across the West and implanting hatred and fear in the fabric of the Western society.

Where are youth in the midst of this conflicting and contradictory situation? Have they given rise to this situation or are they simply its victims? Who are those who have created this situation and what interest is it to serve? What is the role of the young people in this equation?

The Supreme Leader of the Islamic Republic, in a message addressed to the youth in the West, recently called upon them to free themselves from this imposed and destructive quandary. He added that, ďToday, modern communication technology has blurred geographical boundaries. You [the young] must not allow yourselves to be confined within fabricated mental walls."

What are these artificial mental walls? They have their foundations in destructive ideologies, which have two attributes:
1. They are tainted with ignorance, superficiality and fanatic outlooks,
2. They are also violence-oriented and based on terror and takfir, i.e., considering "others" or those who are different as apostates.

Those centers that propagate these ideologies, falsely under the name of Islam, and spend billions of dollars to spread them through satellite TVs and social and traditional media are fueling the spread of ignorance and violence. They specifically prey on youth and link them to their networks of extremism and terrorism.

Todayís world witnesses a nefarious show of violence in the Middle East and North Africa. If those behind this show are not confronted, the danger they create can increase exponentially and leads to the most threatening global security crisis.

It seems that this process has given rise to Islamophobia in the West. However, the financial, political and cultural centers of these hatemongering and takfiri ideologies are indeed allied to the bases of might and money in the West. Such power centers use global media to target Islam and try to depict it as biggest threat, and emphasize the inevitability of the bloody conflict between Islam and the West.

Neither these ideologies, nor global terrorists and nor fear-mongering media, represent Islam. They, all, lie at the core of Islamophobia and the acts that target Muslims. In the message of Iranís Supreme Leader, youth are called upon to stay aloof from this unjustified crisis and to distance themselves in a savvy and clear-sighted way from the ideologies based on ignorance and violence. Islam is the religion of compassion and wisdom, and the way its Prophet lived demonstrates the peaceful way of life, imbued with wisdom and empathy, that it recommends to all.

Earnest young people who seek truth should break mental barriers raised by both Islamophobia and takfiri ideologies and set a new path in the interaction between Islam and the West. Thanks to these young people, the relation between Islam and the West will be based on constructive interaction, mutual respect and fairness. And this is exactly what the Islamic Republic of Iran is looking for in terms of global cooperation to combat extremism and violence.

Iranians, and especially young Iranians, have been mostly immune when it comes to resisting propaganda and recruitment by violent extremists; which is a matter of pride to us. I would like to take this opportunity to once again reaffirm Iranís unquestionable commitment to combating violent extremism especially in the context of our fight against the most dangerous of terrorist groups in our region such as Al-Qaeda and Daesh and other similar groups that have also been the most successful in preying upon the young all over the world.

Finally, President Hassan Rouhani of Iran introduced a comprehensive agenda for a World Against Violent Extremism that was adopted by the General Assembly at its 68th session. This agenda provides a path to combat violent extremism and empower young people around the world and its importance has never been clearer.


Ghomali Khoshroo is the Ambassador of the Islamic Republic of Iran to the United Nations. This article is adapted from a statement he made to the UN Security Council on April 23. The opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of the Common Ground News Service.

Source: Common Ground News Service (CGNews), 29 April 2015,
Copyright permission is granted for publication.
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