Festival of Diplomacy - Children of Daesh
19 December, 2016
On 28 October, 2016 Dr. Mitchell Belfer, President of the Euro-Gulf Information Center (EGIC), was invited to speak at the international conference “I bambini di Daesh” (Children of Daesh). The event was held under the framework of the 8th Edition of the “Festival della Diplomazia” (Festival of Diplomacy), the most important annual festival of international diplomacy and international relations in Rome. Sponsored by the Municipality of Rome, the Festival gathered a group of very prestigious speakers from around Europe including academics, NGO representatives, politicians, journalists, practitioners and experts.
On October 28, the event took place in the stunning Palazzo Giustiniano, a palace of the complex of the Senate. The event was introduced by its Chair, Ambassador Maurizio Melani, previously Italy’s Ambassador to Iraq, who gave an extensive background of the rise and establishment of Daesh. Afterwards Sergio Bianchi, expert on de-radicalization for the European counter-terrorism agency AGENFOR, offered a comprehensive overview of the phenomenon of radicalization, both detailing the concept behind it, providing data and information about the current status of the phenomenon and describing Europe’s initiatives to tackle it. Khalid Chaouki, an Italian Parliamentarian engaged in de-radicalization and integration projects at the national and European level, talked about the sociological and political aspect of the phenomenon, underlining the challenges faced by policy-makers and the importance of engaging with local communities in all phases. Matteo Marsini talked about his experience in working on related issues at the Quilliam Foundation, and the way in which radicalization is linked to the questions of citizenship, identity, and belonging in a globalised world. Carmen Lasorella, a well-known Italian journalist covering the Middle East for the public news channel RAI, stressed the marginal role of terrorism in the region’s history and society. Finally, Dr. Mitchell Belfer offered a comprehensive overview of the phenomenon of exploitation of children by Daesh. Children, Dr. Belfer said, are first and foremost victims. Both those who are dragged into the group and those whose families oppose the group should be considered victims. Brain-washed children, indoctrinated with hate preach and forced to commit atrocities should be seen as children who will need special attention in the post-Daesh phase. Children who were prosecuted because of their families’ opposition to Daesh should be given priority assistance.