By Jemal Oumar
Mauritania’s geographic proximity to terror hotspots makes it particularly vulnerable to the threat. Observers believe that a comprehensive fight against terrorism is not merely military; it stretches deep into the family domain.
It was in this context that family protection association “Ejreiv” held an awareness-raising event on Friday (March 16th) in Nouakchott.
“The goal is to raise awareness among Mauritanian parents about the need for familial harmony, and to ensure that the younger generations are well guided and led to the right path away from strange ideas that have nothing to do with Mauritanian religious and social values, which mainly depend on moderation, tolerance and fraternity,” said association head Tahra Mint Heih.
The event comes “in the framework of combating extremism in society by supporting the social affairs sector to promote families and protect them against activities harmful to state and society”, she added. “We’re ready to proceed with activities that would improve the level of Mauritanian families both socially and morally,” Mint Heih said.
Faqih (Islamic legal expert) Sidi Mohamed Ould Chewaf highlighted the importance of such a type of awareness-raising events and its moral and religious benefits to society. “Islam requires us to distance ourselves from terrorism in general and domestic terrorism in particular,” he said.
Ould Chewaf added, “Five main principles of Islam are focused on preserving soul, honour, mind, money and lineage. As to the spread of terrorism, it is due to the weak religious scruples for some people, and the wrong understanding of Islam and its eccentric interpretations for some others.”
The other speakers stressed the importance of family in steering youths to the right path.
“Children who suffered from family disintegration or were subjected to violence when they were little usually join terrorist organisations, trafficking and organised crime gangs,” sociologist Mohamed Ould Abah said. “Depriving children from being brought up according to a sound religious approach will make them liable to deviant ideas, exactly like some young Mauritanian terrorists who are currently detained in Mauritanian prisons.”
Children’s upbringing determines “the nature of their behaviours in the future”, according to young man Ahmed Bedy Ould Hamiden.
“I personally believe that the best way to immunise Mauritanian children against terrorism is to bring them up to the Sufi values that encourage them to do good to other people and keep them away from psychological and physical violence,” he said. “Alternatively, they can be brought up according to secular Western values that prevent them from accusing others of apostasy or evaluating them based on their religions.”
“Experience has shown that Mauritanian young people who are now members of AQIM didn’t have those two approaches in their upbringing,” he added.