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‘Intolerance of others rights fuels violation of traffic rules’ ‘Home, school training crucial’

IN a recent report by the Arab Times about Traffic Law “Several experts and specialists have asserted the importance of educational syllabus in curbing road accidents in the country, which in the past few years have increased significantly. According to experts, the people in advanced countries abide by traffic law because these countries incorporate in their school curriculum the principles of respecting traffic laws from the early years of education” (see Arab Times Aug 1, 2014). No one can deny the importance of teaching young people about Traffic Laws, good citizenship and any other “civic” qualities.

However, I think that it is equally important to teach young people about the importance of “tolerance.” Accepting diversity, practicing religious and cultural toleration are the first lines of defense against extremism and its offshoot; terrorism. Tolerance begins at home and in schools.

Those who have been educated earlier to practice tolerance usually turn up to become moderate, civil and law abiding citizens. One of the most difficult challenges we face in the Middle East is how to curb the culture of religious and racial prejudice and extremism. Fighting terrorism, to my mind, is currently more important than dealing with minor traffic law violations! Establishing moderation and tolerance in society requires constant monitoring and fighting the culture and discourse of extremism. In fact, our challenge as Middle Easterners in a changing world is to tackle the early causes of religious extremism. Terrorists have been exploiting for years the wealth and human resources in the Middle East to achieve their own twisted ideologies.

An education of tolerance requires educational institutions in the Middle East to include in their curriculums the possibility that there are other alternatives to dealing with a changing world. For example, religious extremists, fundamentalists and terrorist groups continue to exploit young people. It would have been difficult for extremists to recruit some young Middle Eastern people if those young people were brought up in societies that value tolerance above extremism. Moreover, terrorists would not have dared use people as human shields to cover their rampages and destructive actions, if their ideologies were rejected by society as a whole.

An education of tolerance constitutes a buffer zone against exploitative recruitment of young people by terrorist groups and twisted jihadists. We can teach people to respect traffic laws, accept racial and religious diversity in their societies, if we succeed in teaching them the importance of tolerance. Those who violate traffic laws do so because they continue to be intolerant toward others’ rights. Intolerance breeds disrespectful attitudes toward whatever is different.

By: Khaled Aljenfawi

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