Sheba Center for Strategic Studies launches workshop on youth extremism [Archives:2008/1160/Local News]

May 2 2008

By: Yemen Times staff and the Sheba Center for Strategic Studies
SANA'A, May 29 – The Sheba Center for Strategic Studies hosted its first-ever workshop on extremism among youth in Yemen last week. The center invited several social dignitaries, politicians and foreign ambassadors to participate in the workshop, where four working papers were presented on the topic.

In a speech at the workshop, presidential political advisor Abdulkarim Al-Eryani stated that improving curricula at all educational levels, but particularly basic education, will protect society from terrorism.

Yemen also must breed tolerance and make further strides in economic development by creating job opportunities if it wants to safeguard against any future terrorist attacks and youth recruitment.

Al-Eryani emphasized that poverty, poor education and copious amounts of idle time also contribute to extremism. “This workshop is attempting to address extremism among Yemeni youths, as 60 percent of Yemeni society is under age 25,” he pointed out.

The four working papers presented at the workshop attempted to highlight the causes and risks of extremism among Yemeni youth. Sheba Center director Ahmed Saif Al-Masabi presented two papers, the first of which was entitled, “Problematic Conceptualization,” and explored the idea of terrorism compared to the reality.

Terrorism should be defined by looking deeply into the matter itself. The issue shouldn't be attributed to some compelling social or economic circumstance, nor as a reaction to Western dominance of Arab and Islamic society,” Al-Masabi said, adding, “We must read and review critically our religious and political legacy.”

The director's second paper, entitled, “An Exit Strategy from Terrorism,” criticized Western media for equating Islam with terrorism, saying such bias won't serve anyone and will provoke a severe reaction by Muslims.

“It's extremely significant to highlight the difference between true Islam and the wrong interpretation of Islam being adopted by terrorists. We mustn't allow terrorists to claim that they are the true and legitimate representatives of Islam,” Al-Masabi said.

Mohammed Al-Maitami, secretary-general of the Chamber of Commerce, presented a paper entitled, “The Socio-economic Factor Behind Extremism,” suggesting targeting leadership to deal with the source of terrorism.

He also advocated alleviating the pressures upon youths, which will keep from driving them toward joining terrorist organizations. Al-Maitami also explored the success stories of several nations' programs in this respect, including the Saudi Prisoner Release Program and the Yemeni Dialogue Program

The final paper, entitled, “Social Breeding and its Role in Determining Extremism Among Yemeni Youth,” pointed to the lack of family ties that first increases domestic violence then gives rise to extremism.

At the concluding session, Sheba Center board chairman Hussein Al-Ameri highlighted the center's objectives. “The center [works] in four main fields: the strategic, political, social and economic arenas,” he said, noting that the center hopes to publish an annual report entitled the Sheba Magazine for Middle East Studies

The Sheba Center for Strategic Studies seeks to provide decision-makers in Yemen rational policy alternatives via several means, such as publications, workshops, periodicals and special reports.