UNITED NATIONS — Nobel Peace Prize winner Wided Bouchamaoui urged people everywhere on Thursday not to “muddle up” terrorism with Islam.
The Tunisian businesswoman, who co-founded the Tunisian National Dialogue Quartet which won the 2015 peace prize, said Muslims who practice their faith calmly and respectfully are “victims of a semantic problem” when “terrorists” are described as “Islamic terrorists.”
“I think we should call a spade a spade,” Bouchamaoui told the U.N. General Assembly’s high-level forum on The Culture of Peace. “A terrorist is a killer, a murderer, a criminal and I would even say an imposter who is manipulating Islam.”
The Tunisian National Dialogue Quartet was cited by the Norwegian Nobel Committee for making a “decisive contribution to the building of a pluralistic democracy in Tunisia” after the Jasmine Revolution of 2011.
Bouchamaoui said Tunisia is still considered “the exception” to the Arab Spring because it has been able to avoid conflict and to promote dialogue and compromise. It has also been able to promote democracy and is taking steps to counter “terrorism,” she said.
But after deadly attacks in Tunisia and elsewhere carried out by extremists, she said “it is absolutely crucial to review and reconsider the solutions the international community can provide to the complex issue of terrorism in order to stem as best as possible the evil.”
Beyond the victims who are often civilians, Bouchamaoui said “terrorism seeks to strike public opinion, to intimidate it by instilling a climate of fear and terror — and they have achieved this in some places.”