Bahey eldin Hassan, the director of the Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies, was invited to take part in the summit on countering violent extremism, to be held in the UN headquarters in New York on Tuesday, September 29. An initiative of the US president, the summit will be inaugurated by Barack Obama with state leaders and civil society representatives from some 60 states in attendance.
To mark the occasion, the CIHRS, in cooperation with Human Rights First, sent a joint letter to President Obama last Thursday urging governments participating in the summit to draft policies and plans to address the root causes of terrorism and violent extremism. The letter stated that a narrow focus on arbitrary security and military approaches over the last year in the Arab world has had the opposite of the intended effect, only increasing the impetus for extremism and stoking terrorist activity. The letter stated that it is no coincidence that most of the countries suffering from the dangers of terrorism are those that consistently perpetrate grave abuses of their own citizens’ rights.
Hassan spoke in a panel discussion organized by the Council on Foreign Relations in Washington DC last Friday, detailing how counterterrorism policies and practices in Egypt have entailed massive harm to human rights and exacerbated terrorism and extremism. He also met with Jehangir Khan, the director of the UN Counterterrorism Implementation Task Force, and other UN officials, and he had several meetings with officials in the White House, the US State Department, think tanks, and non-governmental organizations.
In tandem with the US summit, the CIHRS and Human Rights First are organizing a joint workshop in New York on September 30 on human rights and countering violent extremism. The workshop, which will feature experts and rights advocates from the Arab world, Africa, Europe, the US, and the UN, will examine the close link between growing terrorism and extremism and grave human rights violations.
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