Khaled AlmaeenaKhaled Almaeena

The report of the arrest of 431 suspected militants from 9 nationalities came as a relief. The arrests made over a period of time will go a long way to prevent further attacks on innocents. In the past few days there have been two incidents where young extremists killed their blood relatives. One killed his father before being shot by security forces and the other blew himself up at a checkpoint after murdering his maternal uncle. What makes these young people become violent killers? It is no use blaming outside forces or Daesh (so-called IS) only for the youth going astray. These people become deviants because of various factors. The most important factor is the lack of upbringing and neglect by parents. There is also the schooling factor where there is too much emphasis placed on rote and rituals rather than character building. Add to that the absence of role models in the society. The total lack of extracurricular activities keeps the youth bored and idle. Educational institutions do not provide the means to harness the energies of our young. No school plays, theaters. Hobby workshops. Or even just plain social work, planned and guided by schools that could help strengthen their moral fiber. Moreover the lack of creative thinking leaves a vacuum in the minds of the youth making them easy prey for extremist teachers, imams and social media manipulators who are out there in abundance spewing hatred and inciting the gullible against people of other sects or even viewpoints. Some abuse their position of authority by acting venomously in the open, while the cowards prefer the anonymity of the social media to disgorge their sullied and evil thoughts. These are the merchants of death and they should be stopped. Sadly I still see their deadly poison spread across social media and it continues to increase with dangerous speed. The proverb that an idle mind is the devil’s workshop is coming home to roost, and we as a society have failed to cater to our young by not directing them to character-building activities. Forget these functions where senior officials come and pay lip service to the youth. What we need are school activities, sports facilities, debates involving the others, adventure games and imaginative and innovative activities that spur interaction. We need initiatives to promote healthy bodies and creative minds. I believe government schools should include qualified teachers from the West and the East so that Saudi teachers can learn from their experience and exchange ideas to implement a modern education that can cater to the needs of the 21st century students. We should also cater to the needs of teachers and give them incentives and show them more respect. Saudi teachers are by and large frustrated and underpaid. Unless teachers are encouraged to invent, innovate and given a free hand to impart knowledge within the parameters of the curricula, education would be in the same rut led by teachers devoid of motivation. Meanwhile the business community should also bear responsibility in addressing the needs of the youth. Businesses should build sports facilities, parks, and other youth related centers instead of focusing only on malls that are mushrooming everywhere in the country. This country has been built with great sacrifices. It is the land of the Haramain and should be a haven of peace, light and progress for all. History will not forgive us if we fail to protect this sacred land. — Reprinted with permission of the Saudi Gazette and Khaled Almaeena. The writer is Editor-at-Large. He can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter: @KhaledAlmaeena