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SINGAPORE — The attack on inter-faith harmony by extremist views is the single most important threat in the world today, said King Abdullah II of Jordan on Thursday (20 June).
“I say ‘single most’ because every global challenge in this 21st century demands we resist hatred and exclusion,” said the 57-year-old.
“Economic growth, peacemaking, protecting the environment, global security, inclusive opportunity—all these critical goals require that we cooperate, and combine our strengths to our common benefit.”
Delivering the keynote address at the International Conference on Cohesive Societies (ICCS) at Raffles City Convention Centre, the Jordanian royal alluded to the recent “murderous attacks” on houses of worship in Christchurch and Sri Lanka.
He said, “Who hasn't seen the evil that extremists will do to drive us apart? But we must also see, clearly, the tremendous power we have, as a united world, to defeat these evils and secure the future our peoples deserve.”
Three areas of special attention
King Abdullah suggested three areas of special attention.
Firstly, he wants “the billions of people on earth who seek peace and harmony” to gather and encourage dialogues of mutual respect.
Secondly, he wants these people to “take advantage of the tools of the modern world”, even as extremists have manipulated today's global connectivity in aid of their “dark atrocities”.
Thirdly, he urges the world to commit for the long term in order to combat a “complex and evolving threat” and help address the issues that extremists exploit.
This means investing in “inclusive, sustainable development”, so that all people can share in opportunity, fighting the war of ideas and then responding to the world's “unprecedented refugee crisis”.
There is also a pressing need to address the “core crisis” of the Middle East, said the King: the long denial of Palestinian statehood, which has fuelled global discord and radicalism.
King Abdullah is currently in Singapore for his third state visit to the Republic, at the invitation of President Halimah Yacob.
The ICCS brings together more than 1,000 delegates from close to 40 countries to tackle challenges facing social cohesion, and strengthen inter-religious and inter-cultural understanding globally.
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