By Associated Press
September 2, 2016
protest outside the French embassy during, the “wear what you want beach party”
in London, Aug. 25, 2016. The protest is against the French authorities
clampdown on Muslim women wearing burkinis on the beach. (AP Photo/Frank
Nobel Peace Prize winner Wided Bouchamaoui
urged people everywhere on Thursday not to “muddle up” terrorism with Islam.
The Tunisian businesswoman, who co-founded
the Tunisian National Dialogue Quartet which won the 2015 peace prize, said
Muslims who practice their faith calmly and respectfully are “victims of a
semantic problem” when “terrorists” are described as “Islamic terrorists.”
“I think we should call a spade a spade,”
Bouchamaoui told the UN General Assembly’s high-level forum on The Culture of
Peace. “A terrorist is a killer, a murderer, a criminal and I would even say an
imposter who is manipulating Islam.”
The Tunisian National Dialogue Quartet was
cited by the Norwegian Nobel Committee for making a “decisive contribution to
the building of a pluralistic democracy in Tunisia” after the Jasmine
Revolution of 2011.
Bouchamaoui said Tunisia is still
considered “the exception” to the Arab Spring because it has been able to avoid
conflict and to promote dialogue and compromise. It has also been able to
promote democracy and is taking steps to counter “terrorism,” she said.
But after deadly attacks in Tunisia and
elsewhere carried out by extremists, she said “it is absolutely crucial to
review and reconsider the solutions the international community can provide to
the complex issue of terrorism in order to stem as best as possible the evil.”
Beyond the victims who are often civilians,
Bouchamaoui said “terrorism seeks to strike public opinion, to intimidate it by
instilling a climate of fear and terror — and they have achieved this in some
The Nobel laureate said she and others
intend to join forces to fight extremism, which knows no borders.
“It must be considered as a priority of the
UN agenda on the culture of peace and non-violence,” Bouchamaoui said.
Stressing the importance of international
action, she said, “I would like to urge each and every one of you not to muddle
up terrorism (with) Islam.”
By referring to terrorists as Islamic,
Bouchamaoui said, confusion is created in people’s minds between the Muslim
faith “and a team of Jihadists who are prepared to blow themselves up by
killing innocent people.”
She said threats to peace and security
“linked to terrorism” are one challenge Tunisia is facing.
Increased insecurity in Tunisia is mainly
the result of “disastrous management” of the conflict in neighbouring Libya,
Bouchamaoui said. “We are very much paying a very high price for the
instability in Libya. It affects our country every day, and our neighbouring
She said 2015 was a year of success for
Tunisia’s democratic transition, “but a terrible year for Tunisia and the
world” because of extremist attacks, uncertainties, and “a lack of vision.”
Bouchamaoui urged international action to
help young people find a future in which they have a stake and feel they can
make a contribution to the world — so they’re not attracted to extremist groups
or drawn into smuggling.