Ismail Serageldin


Exploring Challenges of Democratic Security in a Time of Extremism

16/01/2017 | Cairo

A high level three day conference organized by the Bibliotheca Alexandrina (BA) together with the Nizami Ganjavi International Center (NGIC) was held in Cairo under the theme of “Democratic Security in a Time of Extremism and Violence”. Participating in the meeting was George Ivanov, President of Macedonia; together with former presidents and prime ministers, political leaders and thinkers and ambassadors from around the world.  Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi  met with the Macedonian President and the high level group at Al-Ittihadiya Presidential Palace before the conference and stressed the importance of collaboration between the international community to combat the terrorism that targets civilians worldwide without discrimination. He added that a strategic plan should be made that is not limited to security or military actions. He also underlined the importance of the role of religious discourse in promoting the principles of co-existence.

At the start of the conference, Serageldin, Director of the BA and Co-Chair of NGIC welcomed the participants and inaugurated the meeting, introducing the speakers of the opening session:  George Ivanov, President of Macedonia; Olusegun Obasanjo, President of Nigeria (1999–2007); Boris Tadic, President of Serbia (2004–2012) (On Behalf of NGIC); Adel El-Beltagy, Chair of the Executive Committee of the Board of Trustees of the BA (On behalf of the BA); as well as a special address: by Moushira Khattab, Minister of Family & Population of Egypt (2009–2011).

The conference sought to explore the challenges posed by  the rising problem of terrorism,  not only the military and security challenges, but also  the fundamental set of cultural challenges that it raises.  It sought  to identify general recommendations for finding the right balance between confronting violent extremism and ensuring security in a democratic society.

In his closing address Serageldin said: “…one of the most important questions of our time is how societies that have had a long tradition of democratic rule, or those who aspire to build a strong democratic system have to find a balance between providing the security they owe their citizens and the rights and liberties that they must protect for those same citizens”;  and further posed the ultimate  questions: “Where  does the right balance lie? Does it differ from country to country?"

He emphasized the importance of “defeating terrorism through cultural confrontation, defeating extremist ideas with ideas of openness and pluralism, marginalizing the extremists and destroying their appeal to alienated youth”.  Adding: “We know that a military and security response to Terrorism is warranted and needed. But beyond that is the battle of ideas, which requires dialogue and openness on all of society to change the dominant political, religious and media discourse. Military solutions alone will not be enough.”

Click here to read the text of the whole speech.






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