Fighting extremism

In Rome, Jordan’s Queen Rania calls for unified global response to defeat ISIS

During a speech in the “eternal city,” the queen warned of an existential threat to the civilized world by a “common enemy”

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In the wake of a series of terror attacks that have rocked San Bernardino, Calif., Paris, Lebanon, and other places around the world, Queen Rania of Jordan this week implored the international community to renew efforts to thwart “the rise of irreligious terrorists whose sole aim is to destroy the civilized world.”

Speaking at Sapienza University in Rome where she was given an honorary doctorate degree on Thursday, Rania said that humanity is at a turning point, and that ISIS has given the global community a glimpse into a dark future that awaits if decisive action isn’t taken against the extremist group.

“We’ve been haunted by scenes from Syria and Iraq,” Rania told the audience. “Communities robbed of life, livelihoods destroyed, childhoods lost, schools and hospitals deserted, torture and mass murder.”

She continued, “[We’re] haunted by images of children’s bodies washing up on shore, and by the idea that we could live in a world where people die in restaurants. Or at concerts. Or kneeling while they pray.”

Rania also lamented the loss of the world’s “shared cultural heritage,” referring to antiquities that ISIS has managed to wipe out in the last two years.

“From the ancient city of Palmyra, a Roman trading post around A.D. 200 … the 12th century Khudr mosque in Mosul, to the 7th century St. Ahoadamah church in Tikrit. And so many more,” Rania said.

Jordan’s queen, who appeared on the stage at the Women in the World London Summit in October, has been an outspoken advocate for refugees fleeing war-torn regions in Syria and Iraq. Indeed, that was the topic she discussed during her Women in the World appearance, where she said, “The situation in Syria wouldn’t have gotten this bad if there wasn’t a standoff between different countries having different agendas and interests.” Her frank remarks on the issue didn’t stop at that in October. She called for a global approach to solving the refugee crisis, and said the people around the world need to distinguish terrorists who’ve hijacked Islam for their bloody agenda from the vast majority of Muslims who practice the religion in peace. “Islamophobia is a very real thing,” Queen Rania warned in October. “It’s a very dangerous thing if we keep thinking of ISIS as Islamic.”

That was a theme she echoed during her speech in Rome. “This is about all of us. It’s not about Muslims versus Christians. Or conservatives versus liberals. Or East versus West,” Rania said. “This is not any one country’s war. This is every country’s war. Because for the first time in history, the civilized world has a common enemy.”

The sentiment of solidarity with Muslims was a similar one expressed by former U.S. Navy Admiral William McRaven during an appearance this week at the Women in the World Salon in San Antonio. “We cannot restrict Muslims from coming into the United States,” McRaven said at the event. Such an idea has proven controversial this week after Republican frontrunner Donald Trump proposed temporarily barring Muslims from visiting or immigrating to the U.S.

In her speech, Rania called for a “can-do coalition” that’s formed with the express task of rooting out ISIS once and for all, which she said has taken its fight beyond a simple “physical war.”

“Defeating Daesh,” she said, using a term for ISIS that the group despises, “depends on understanding their tactics and twisted mind sets. They’re waging a psychological war. And their weapon of choice is fear.”

Rania noted that she consciously chose to make these particular remarks in Rome, which is nicknamed “the Eternal City.”

“Where better than in the eternal city of Rome, steeped in hundreds of years of history and beauty, to recommit to our shared future?” she concluded.

Watch video of the queen’s complete speech at the top of this article.

Related:

Jordan’s Queen Rania, longtime champion of women and children, speaks up for refugees

Decorated Navy Admiral William H. McRaven: “We cannot restrict Muslims from coming into the United States”

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