Last Updated: Mon Nov 01, 2010 20:19 pm (KSA) 17:19 pm (GMT)

Muslim cleric suggests concerts to fight drugs

Of the 10 million addicts in the Arab world, 4 are in Egypt (File)
Of the 10 million addicts in the Arab world, 4 are in Egypt (File)

Muslim cleric Amr Khaled has teamed up with Dubai Police and United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) to launch a new campaign to fight drugs in the Arab world, the group is set to promote concerts and religious sermons as part of the battle against drugs.

Egypt's Khaled told AlArabiya.net the drive aims to raise awareness and tackle addiction using planned methods such as: the distribution of a million "No to drugs" stickers, five thousand activities including concerts, religious sermons, seminars, marathons, T.V. and radio shows and interviews with public figures to take place across the Arab world.

The UNODC is counting on Khaled's popularity in the Arab world as well as other public figures like Egyptian soccer player Mohamed Abou-Treika, Emirati soccer player Ismail Mater, presenters from the MBC group and other satellite channels to promote the campaign and make it a success.

Khaled said call centers will be opened for those who want to start treatment and information will be treated as highly confidentiality. He also revealed that about 25 rehabilitation centers have pledged to provide space for 5 million patients and offer up to 50% discount on treatment and about 15% of patients will receive free treatment.

The campaign revealed that there are 10 million drug addicts in the Arab world, 4 million in Egypt, and that the number of addicts is constantly rising and expected to soar due to the fact that drugs are becoming more affordable and the employment rate is at a high along with frustration and suffering amongst Arab youth.

Funding

With regards to funding the campaign, Khaled said the budget was limited and "we will have to depend on voluntary work and rehabilitation centers."

The plan is to have the UNOCD, Dubai police and Right Start Association, owned by Khaled, train up to five thousand people, who will approach addicts in the Arab world and convince them to start treatment.

"There are 200 million addicts all over the world, which constitutes 5% of its population, 10 million are in the Arab world and constitute 4.5% of its population," head of the UNOCD office in the UAE Mohamed Abdul-Aziz said.

When asked whether the targeted number is meager in comparison to the number of addicts, Khaled replied that the campaign aims to ring alarm bells and can not totally eliminate the problem: "when this campaign works, there will be others."

"A survey of drug seizures in 10 Arab countries—Libya, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, U.A.E., Bahrain, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and Yemen—revealed more steps are being taken to combat drug use," Abdul-Aziz told AlArabiya.net.



(Translated from Arabic by Sonia Farid.)

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