Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi presented a plan Monday afternoon at the UN General Assembly to battle regional extremism.
Sisi began his speech by praising his country’s efforts to expand the Suez Canal, explaining that the new economic development project will expand success in the transportation, trade, and services sectors.
“For this new canal is not only Egypt’s gift to the world; it is the embodiment of hope, and the ability to transform that hope into tangible reality, and a new direction through hard work,” Sisi said. “When hope is coupled with hard work and commitment, it becomes the brightest light that can dispel the darkness of despair.”
And that darkness “lingers over the Middle East” today, he explained, adding that “hope and hard work” can “illuminate the path towards the future.”
The country’s youth must be shown that with “diligence” and “hard work” they can have a role in crafting the future of the region, Sisi said.
In his speech, Sisi announced that Egypt would be launching a UN-backed initiative called “Hope and Action for a New Direction, or HAND” in English.
“This is indeed the hand that Egypt extends as part of its contribution to defeating the forces of extremism and the ideas they seek to spread,” he added.
By presenting the truth, the arguments made by religious extremist fall to the wayside, “particularly those who claim to have a monopoly over Islam,” Sisi insisted.
Extremist interpretations of Islam negate “the truth of Islam’s tolerance, justice, and mercy,” he added.
“There is no doubt that more than 1.5 billion Muslims refuse to subscribe to the views of this small minority that claims to speak on their behalf, and that seeks through violence and extremism to marginalize and silence all those who oppose it,” said the Egyptian President.
“How many Muslims must fall victim to the abominations of terrorism and extremism before the world recognizes that all of us, Muslim, and non-Muslim alike, are at war with the same enemy, that we face the same threat?” he asked.
Sisi urged a united front in the battle to stabilize Libya. He talked about how extremist organizations in Syria are dividing the country. The Egyptian President called on Syrian parties to meet in Cairo to discuss a long-term peace deal.
Sisi also covered the ongoing turmoil in Iraq and Yemen, calling for stability throughout the region.
On the Palestinians, Sisi said that the “question of Palestine is a just cause, resolving this conflict and empowering the Palestinian people to exercise their right to self-determination and to an independent state.”
“Achieving peace continues to face hurdles and challenges that require us all to tackle by providing decisive, final solutions,” Sisi added.
He ended with an optimistic message for the future of Egypt: “I am confident that with God’s help, the Egyptian people will be able to achieve their highest aspiration for themselves, their country, their region, and the whole world.”