Blaming particular communities for acts of terrorism by a handful of individuals served no purpose, and society was better off promoting resilience within such communities, the President said yesterday.

President Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca urged participants at the second edition of the Malta Model United Nations Conference, which took off yesterday and ends tomorrow, to make the most of the theme chosen for the event: keeping civilians safe in a terrorised world.

“We must not stigmatise or blame communities because of the actions of a handful of individuals.

“We must instead support our communities, welcoming them as partners and recognising that a particular ethnic, religious or national background is not necessarily an indicator of concern,” the President said.

Organised by the Malta Model United Nations Society, the conference has brought together young delegates from across the world to discuss issues on terrorism.

According to the President, such events send a strong message of active participation and invest in the “personal development and the leadership potential of diverse individuals from across society”.

An ethnic, religious or national background is not necessarily an indicator of concern

“A credible and sustainable response to terrorism is necessarily a social response, which takes into account the holistic well-being of society,” she said.

The President called on the conference participants to acknowledge that the risk of propaganda had become more pertinent in the digital age, with information being freely and quickly exchanged online.

“Ultimately, it is our communities that are best placed to recognise and confront the threat of violent extremism. When children and families are targeted, it is the community that must spring into action,” she said.

Ms Coleiro Preca added that communities who were often blamed for terror acts by people with the same cultural background were often experiencing precariousness and vulnerability.

She insisted, therefore, that members of such communities be offered the necessary help, in order to make them more resilient. “When a community is resilient, it is better able to withstand new difficulties and threats.

“We know that there is no single issue that pushes individuals toward supporting or committing violence,” she said.

The President also called for collaboration with local partners who could more readily identify problems as they emerge, creating “tailored strategies that are appropriate and useful for particular individuals, groups, and contexts”.

US Ambassador G. Kathleen Hill also addressed the conference, saying she supported Malta’s efforts in the global fight against terrorism. “No country is immune to terrorism acts. Tomorrow we commemorate the 15th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks in the US. Some 3,000 people lost their lives that day, among them people from 90 different countries,” Ms Hill said, highlighting the importance of global efforts against terrorism.

The collective effort of people from all over the world, including Malta, has disrupted other planned attacks, but the threats remained and there was a pressing need to address the issue on a global level, she said.

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