By Jaco Stoop
Question: Do you think the Arab League could play a part in reconciling the issues in Syria, and if so, what could it do?
Answer: Unfortunately, the Arab League, since its establishment, has not been able to meet the challenges that the Arab world faces. It goes from one failure to the next. Its affairs are the affairs of governments, which [the Arab League] expresses in general.
Even today, we don’t have many models in the Arab world that form an example in which freedoms and human rights are respected.
What is needed from the Arab governments, specifically the central and active states within the Arab world, is that [the governments] realize that what is happening in Syria is not just a Syrian matter. If Syria falls, whether because of the dictatorship or terrorism, all the capitals in the Arab world will fall, one after the other. Therefore, what we really need today is to not just take the results of the crisis in Syria but to look at the causes in general and deal with these causes, because these causes are also present in all the Arab countries.
Question: Can education play a role?
Answer: The issue of education and the new generations is very important. During the meeting I mentioned examples of my daughter. She was born in France and went to French schools where she could express her rights. Through family or through society and the state in general, I see the differences in how humans are formed [from a young age] through upbringing and education in schools on respecting human values, respecting the other, and freedoms and human rights in general, or to the contrary.
That’s why I hold the opinion that education is one of the most important points that is able to make a difference in the Arab world. My fear regarding Syria today, is that millions of children are outside educational institutions. There is a large number of children under control of ISIS/Daesh and other terrorist organizations, whether the Nusra [Front] or others, that continue to teach the ideas of extremism from a very young age. Also, we are facing a generation that does not know any science or culture, except the culture of extremism and terrorism. That is a very dangerous thing, for today, but also for the future in general.
That is why, once more, education is fundamental in the Arab world. In the Syrian situation, unfortunately, because of the war a large portion [of our children] falls outside educational institutions, large portions are subjected to extremism and terrorism, and caught up in the immediate struggle for peace. Peace in Syria is the one thing that is necessary to bring back the education. [Peace] makes education available to all these children, to liberate these children from dictatorship and terrorism.