Swiss foreign minister calls for broad anti-terror strategy

Representatives of more than 60 nations attended the White House summit Keystone

Fighting terrorism and extremism is “one of the major challenges of our generation”, said Swiss Foreign Minister Didier Burkhalter in a speech on Thursday at a three-day anti-terrorism summit in Washington.

This content was published on February 19, 2015 minutes and agencies

The murder of innocent men, women and children and the enormous suffering of civilians at the hands of terrorist groups is not justified by any religion and is unacceptable, according to Burkhalter.

Extremist groups in Syria, Iraq and Nigeria have become major drivers of war, and attacks by radical individuals pose a threat to both Muslim and non-Muslim societies, he said.

As chair of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe in 2014, said Burkhalter, Switzerland has sensed how great the international concern is, and how determined the parties are to work together to find solutions in the fight against terrorism.

A sustainable solution “will require all of us to prevent the fires of terrorism from igniting in the first place,” Burkhalter said. “We need a broad strategy that goes beyond relying on firefighters whenever such fires break out.”

Burkhalter emphasised that young people who are at risk of joining terrorist groups need to be given alternatives, a sense of belonging, and a purpose in life.

US President Barack Obama highlighted the need to prevent extremist ideas from spreading through the Internet and social media. It is up to political, social and religious leaders to set the tone in combatting violent extremism, he said.

The United States summit was a response in part to the attacks on the magazine Charlie Hebdo in Paris in January. Representatives of More, which concludes on Thursday.

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