TUNIS, 5 January 2004 — Interior Minister Prince Naif has called for a campaign throughout the Arab world to combat deviant ideas that breed terrorism.
"We have to carry out a joint integrated campaign to ensure the security and stability of the Arab nation," he told a meeting of the Arab Interior Ministers' Council here yesterday.
Prince Naif, the council's honorary president, called "terrorist violence" the greatest threat to Arab security and said it must also be fought at the societal level.
"The renegades must be killed," Prince Naif said. He later added, "It was the text of the Hadith... and we should face this matter sternly and with all our force."
The meeting was expected to draw up guidelines for a document designed to rein in cross-border organized crime and terrorism and work on a draft law to counter cybercrime.
The fight against drug and human trafficking was also on the interior ministers' two-day agenda.
"The terror issue has priority" because of the serious consequences for "the security, stability and understanding in the world in general and in our Arab region in particular," said Tunisian President Zine Al-Abidine Ben Ali in an address read out by his Interior Minister Hadi Mehanni.
"Tunisia condemns terrorist acts committed recently in some parts of the world as well as the perpetrators' contempt for noble human values," he added.
Ben Ali said the terrorist attacks had caused "huge damage to Islam, our fine religion that is based on dialogue, fairness, moderation and tolerance."
He called on Arab interior ministers to cooperate further so their countries can "meet the various challenges to their security and especially those linked to terrorism."
On arrival in Tunis earlier, Prince Naif urged the public to cooperate with security officers in their bid to combat terror and crime.
"Citizens and residents in Arab countries should feel that their security and freedom are protected, which means we expect more active participation," he said.
Prince Naif commended the efforts of Saudi security forces in fighting terror. Police in the Kingdom have foiled a number of terror attacks and arrested hundreds of terror suspects over the past months.
He said terrorist organizations were recruiting young Saudis and other Arabs. "They use our children as tools for terrorism. This is truly painful," he said.
However, the prince expressed optimism that joint efforts of the state, religious scholars, intellectuals and journalists would help Arab countries face down the threat.