Saliha Ben Ali

Saliha Ben Ali

My name Saliha Ben Ali. I am of Tunisian origin and Muslim. I am 44 and I live in Brussels since I was born. I am a mother of 4 children and I have worked for 20 years as a social worker. One day in August 2013, my second son Sabri, 19, left his loving family to "save the world". He said he joined the land of Sham, Syria. He never returned. Sabri died in December 2013 in circumstances that we still are unaware of.

After his departure, the most important thing for me was to understand the reasons why he left and chose to die "as a martyr" instead to stay with his loving family above all. I wanted to prevent other innocents from sacrificing themselves. I participated in discussion groups with other parents, like me, concerned by the departure of a loved one to a war zone. Finally, my involvement at the national and international level, my experience, my career and my expertise on the issue of violent radicalization have made me, a key partner on the local and international level in the fight against violent extremism.

To register publicly and permanently in the field, I founded an association: SAVE BELGIUM, Society Against Violent Extremism Belgium. The aim of this association is to support families weakened by the loss or departure of a child to Syria to join extremist groups, but also the awareness of young people against all forms of identity including religious etc... My fields of action are talking in schools, youth associations and soon the detention centers for youth and prisons. I'm also often called to visit families in despair. I remain convinced that mothers play a central and critical role in the prevention and the fight against all forms of radicalism.

The challenge is increasing, but at our level, together, we can do it. I will conclude by quoting Abbé Pierre: "We cannot, under the pretext that it is impossible to do everything in a day, doing nothing at all."

Read, listen and watch Saliha's story and learn about her work:

Le Figaro: Saliha Ben Ali, mère de djihadiste : «J'ai déclaré la guerre à Daech»

The Conversation: Prévention de la radicalisation : regards sur les expériences internationales

Die Presse: Radikalisierung von Jugendlichen: "Sie wollen für eine Sache kämpfen"

Die Presse: Extremismus: Der Kampf der Mütter gegen den Jihad

The Daily Star: Belgian woman who lost her son in Syria talks on fighting extremism

Le Vif: Il faut préparer les retours des "returnees" belges de Syrie

ABC News: Fighting terrorism with love: How mothers can use emotion to tackle extremism

The Daily Star: 'Open your ears and hearts'

The Daily Star: Radicalisation of Youths: Families alone are not responsible

Connect to Saliha Ben Ali:

Save Belgium