The government of Saudi Arabia is carrying out an awareness campaign to educate its citizens about extremism and terrorism and their effects on the society and culture of the Kingdom. This campaign, which was inaugurated during the Counter-Terrorism International Conference held in Riyadh from February 5-8, 2005, has been running for several weeks and incorporates educational programming, events, and advertising. Many different branches of the government, including the Ministries of Interior, Defense, Islamic Affairs, Education, Culture and Information, and Commerce and Industry, as well as the General Presidency for Youth Welfare, are participating in the campaign by organizing public lectures and distributing materials designed to educate Saudis about the origins and effects of extremism and terrorism. Moreover, government as well as private television stations are airing a variety of programs that examine issues of religious extremism, social cohesion and nationalism.
Participation of Government Ministries:
The awareness campaign includes a broad cross-section of the Saudi government ministries, each of which is responsible for using its unique focus to educate the public about the dangers of terrorism and religious extremism. Ministries are organizing lectures and exhibitions in schools, universities and public areas. These seminars discuss the ways in which terrorism has affected the nation and highlight the ways in which Saudi security forces have responded. These events showcase terrorism experts, security forces and religious personalities and encourage citizen participation through art exhibitions, poetry performances and discussion groups. The government has requested that Saudi-based businesses and organizations include counter-terrorism messages in their communications with customers, including ATM transactions, utility bills and text messages. Firms owning commercial advertising space in public places are being encouraged to donate their billboards for counter-terrorism messages. These messages are also highlighted in the media as well as in mosques throughout the Kingdom.
In addition to events and lectures organized by different ministries, the Saudi government has also commissioned several television and film production companies to create special programming that addresses issues of religious extremism, tolerance and nationalism. The purpose of this programming is to identify the causes of terrorism and depict its failures, to clarify the principles of Islam and the role it plays in everyday life, and to foster national unity in the fight against extremism and terrorism.
All of the programs created for the campaign are designed to educate the society at large, with different series produced for children and adults. This special programming takes the form of:
The goals of the campaign are emphasized by a series of advertisements that seek to illustrate the pain that terrorism has wrought, reinforce the idea that terrorism is wrong, and to promote national unity as a means to fight terrorism. These advertisements are being aired ona number of Arabic satellite networks including Al-Arabiya, MBC and Future Television, as well as on Saudi TV channels, in the following three phases: