Featuring HRH Prince Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein
with remarks by Hedieh Mirahmadi and Matthew Levitt
TUESDAY, DECEMBER 16, 2014
12:00 PM to 2:00 PM
The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
(Stern Library and Conference Room)
1828 L Street, NW, Suite 1050
Washington, DC, 20036
In a speech before the Security Council last month, UN human rights chief Prince Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein called for a Muslim-led campaign to combat ISIS’ ideology alongside the coalition’s military campaign against the group in Syria and Iraq. Meanwhile, the White House is planning to hold a summit on efforts aimed at countering violent extremism at home. In response to these events, the Washington Institute hosted a Policy Forum on December 16, 2014, featuring a presentation by HRH Prince Zeid (by video conference), followed by remarks from Hedieh Mirahmadi and Matthew Levitt.
Prince Zeid discussed the proliferation of extremist groups in the Middle East, and in particular, the role of extremist ideologies in promoting intolerance and militancy. In his remarks, Prince Zeid called upon community leaders and laymen to refute such ideologies — and he called upon the media to elevate these voices. Matt Levitt noted that the U.S. government has a tremendous amount of work to do in developing better relationships and partnerships with Muslim communities to address this threat and highlighted several key challenges in preventing violent extremism (PVE) in the US, such as the government’s inability to counter extremist ideologies. This responsibility, Levitt noted, rests with NGOs, however the government should help connect public and private resources to help communities disseminate their counter-narratives better. Following his remarks, Dr. Hedieh Mirahmadi discussed WORDE’s local PVE efforts, known as the Montgomery County Model. Focusing on Crossroads, the intervention and prevention of violence component of the model, Mirahmadi explained how WORDE’s culturally proficient clinicians provide vulnerable individuals with counseling, mentoring, group therapy and assistance in accessing safety net services to reduce psycho-social and economic risk factors associated with violent extremism. She also outlined several recommendations for empowering Muslim communities to counter ISIS ideology, such as hosting additional conferences and exchanges with international scholars who can refute extremist ideologies along with other initiatives that can develop a counter-culture to violent extremism.
HRH Prince Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein is the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights. Previously, he served as Jordan’s permanent representative to the UN and ambassador to the United States.
Hedieh Mirahmadi, an expert on community-based counter-radicalization programming, is the president of WORDE, an organization dedicated to promoting dialogue between Muslims and non-Muslims and strengthening moderate Muslim institutions worldwide.
Matthew Levitt is the Fromer-Wexler Fellow and director of the Stein Program on Counterterrorism and Intelligence at The Washington Institute.