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EU Counter-Terrorism Coordinator Gilles de Kerchove said on Tuesday 25 May that the EU is stepping up its anti-terrorism cooperation with the Arab world and praised the anti-radicalisation programmes in Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries such as Saudi Arabia.

During a joint meeting of the European Parliament’s committees on Foreign Affairs and Development, Mr De Kerchove, the EU’s top anti-terror official, explained that more and more countries in the Middle East and North Africa want to engage with the EU in counter-terrorism and deradicalisation programmes.

During the debate , the chair of the Parliament’s Delegation for relations with the Arab Peninsula, Michèle Alliot-Marie asked whether Mr De Kerchove planned exchanges with Gulf countries on the matter given their track record in deradicalisation and their position in the region and religion?”

They have an impressive success rate. We can draw inspiration from their experiences. We want to and do cooperate with Saudi Arabia on many fronts.

In response De Kerchove said “We have much to learn,” and noted that he has visited the Saudi deradicalisation centre in Riyadh. “They have an impressive success rate. We can draw inspiration from their experiences. We want to and do cooperate with Saudi Arabia on many fronts. However, Europe has to define its own model,” he added. “Let us explore with our partner countries in the Arab world how together we can connect our thoughts in the fight against this perversion of Islam and Daesh.”

To address the problem of terrorism at its root, Saudi Arabia in 2005 launched a large-scale national campaign to raise public awareness of the risks of extremist ideology, which continues to this day. Through cooperation, European countries stand to benefit from the Saudi experiences of fighting extremism and radical thought. For instance, there is rich expertise to be tapped from the Prince Mohammed bin Naif Counselling and Care Center which rehabilitates extremists and the Assakina Campaign for Dialogue, which works to correct misinterpretation of Islamic doctrines about violence, reject excess and promote moderation.