Saudi govt launches campaign across mediums to tab extremism

MUMBAI: The government of Saudi Arabia has been carrying out a national public awareness and education campaign as part of its strategy to combat extremism.



The programme features advertisements on television, radio and billboards, as well as programmes on television, in schools and mosques, and at sporting events. The objective is to educate Saudi citizens about the true values of the Islamic faith and the importance of tolerance and moderation.

Adel Al-Jubeir who is the foreign affairs advisor to Crown Prince Abdullah bin Abdulaziz says, "The campaign will help educate our public, especially our young people about the dangers of extremism and terrorism."



The campaign, conducted over several weeks, has as one of its enterpieces a series of public service advertisements. These air up to 25 times a day on a number of Arabic satellite networks including Al-Arabiya, MBC and Future Television, as well as on Saudi TV channels.

Six government ministries are coordinating the development and execution of the programs. The Ministry of Education, for example, is sponsoring lectures at public schools that promote moderation, tolerance and peace and point out the dangers of extremism.

Al-Jubeir adds, "The bottom line is that no Saudi citizen will be able to escape the clear message that intolerance, violence and extremism are not part of our Islamic faith or Saudi culture or traditions. We are using different forms of communication to send a clear and powerful message, and we are taking serious actions to undermine the strength of those that try to misguide our young people."

Over a two-week period, schools and mosques in the country will devote time to lectures promoting moderation and tolerance, and highlighting the evils of terrorism. The advertisements in the different media are all in Arabic. The aim is to foster concepts to destroy the mindset of hate and violence and appeal to the values that all Saudis share, to work for a better society without extremism.



There are three phases to the campaign. The first is designed to personify and humanize the victims of terrorism. Al-Jubeir points out that over the past two years, more than 500 people have been killed or injured by acts of terrorism in the Kingdom, including over 35 brave security officers who gave their lives in the line of duty and over 200 who were injured.

"The first spot depicts a father who lost a son through terrorism. Phase II of the campaign is designed to make clear that terrorism and extremism are not part of our faith, culture or society. The final phase is designed to promote values and feelings of national pride. The Saudi people have been galvanized in opposition to Al-Qaeda and terrorism in general, and this message is meant to continue to reinforce and mobilise national opinion.

"In addition to the advertising campaign, we have also developed a series of special programming, some of which is designed to reach a younger audience. We have a multi-series programme The Discourse of Mind and Logic. This is a series of documentaries that addresses how terrorist ideology was spread in the region and in the Kingdom and the effect it has had on Saudi Arabia. In this example, the narrator relates these effects on society and family, and you will meet children whose innocence and future have been altered by terrorism.

"Then there is a programme is from another series of documentaries Why? You will see members of families grieving because of acts of terrorism that have killed or injured their loved ones. The goal of this programme is to reinforce the importance of the true ideals of Islam -- tolerance and peace. By relying on faith, it will help them overcome such tragedy."

Al Jubeir explains that this national multimedia public service campaign is similar to, but more intense than, the Just Say No or Friends Don't Let Friends Drink and Drive campaigns in the US. "We are using different forms of communication to send a clear and powerful message, and we are taking serious actions to undermine the strength of those that try to misguide our young people.

"God willing, this campaign will help educate our public, especially our young people, about the dangers of extremism, and contribute to the war against terrorism."

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