WORLD YOUTH FORUM
Sharm el Sheikh, Egypt
3 – 6 November 2018
Message from the Secretary General, Global Network of Religions for Children (GNRC)
4th November, Sharm el Sheikh, Egypt
Your Excellency the President of the Republic of Egypt, H.E. Abdel Fattah Al Sisi,
I am honoured to be with you today here in Sharm el Sheikh for the second edition of the World Youth Forum. This Youth Forum comes at a time when the world is undergoing significant changes and challenges. Changes that are largely positive in the world, with significant scientific development, trading and globalization. But it also comes at a time when significant challenges have surfaced – Challenges that are threatening the peace and in some cases, the very stability and our existence in this world.
The rising level of extremism is particularly affecting children, the youth and families in harmful ways. The idea of hosting the World Youth Forum in Egypt is much welcome especially at this time when youth face many challenges. In particular, hosting such an event in Egypt is necessary, for Egypt has not only 60 million youth among its population of 99 million, it is also a country of immense value to humanity.
The greatest and largest open-air museum is here, in Egypt. Egypt is home to almost half of the world’s antiquities and historical artefacts. It houses the vestiges of Pharaonic, Coptic, Byzantine, Roman and Islamic civilizations.
From the majestic Pyramids of Giza: to the historical organized polities in the Luxor and the hospitality of the Bedouins in the Sinai: Egypt inspires all. Inspiration – we all draw from – from the monuments erected by civilizations founded on the Nile Valley over the millennia.
Egypt’s geo-strategic location connects Africa with Asia and Europe. It connects people across the world. The existence of the historical heritage in Egypt now stands a risk of being destroyed by extremists. Terrorists have proven their sadistic appetite for cultural cleansing: from dynamiting the Buddhas statutes of Bamiyan in Afghanistan to the destruction of the Palmyra in Syria.
Invaluable human heritage, artefacts and important symbols of the world’s globalized civilization that once stood in Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan and other parts: have all been destroyed. Will you allow this to happen to the greatest and largest and most important open-air museum of the world?
Are we going to allow the only remaining, of the seven, ancient wonders of the world, the Pyramids of Giza to be destroyed by extremism? No.
To do so, we must defeat what has become the most direct threat to our civilization, as we know it today.
- Violent extremism threatens the very idea of our diversity.
- Violent extremism threatens the very idea of our inclusivity.
- Violent extremism threatens the very idea of our plurality.
- Violent extremism threatens the flourishing of all communities.
Arigatou International, the organization I represent, in its Fifth Forum of the Global Network of Religions for Children (GNRC) held last year, identified violent extremism as one of the challenges affecting the world’s children and youth. Today, many young people like you are engaged in GNRC Networks spread over 55 countries to address violence against children, against youth, and against communities.
In the Horn of Africa, through Building Resilience Against Violent Extremism (BRAVE), faith leaders and youth, supported by governments of Japan, Kenya, and bilaterally through the United Nations, are pushing back the ideology of terror and extremism. In Nigeria, the faith leaders have adopted BRAVE ideological pushback initiatives and tools to roll back Boko Haram’s extremist advances.
In Kenya, Somalia, Ethiopia, Tanzania, Uganda and other Horn of Africa countries, youth and faith leaders have joined hands through the Community Resilience Against Violent Extremism (CRAVE) and Regional Peace Program (RPP) supported by the Goldin Institute, Norwegian Church Aid, and many local institutions, to build resilience among the youth, families, communities, that make it harder for extremists’ recruitment. The Learning to Live Together program has been introduced around the world, and nurturing children and many young people like yourselves to respect each other, positively transform communities and empathize with each other.
I propose the adoption of these concrete programs, including BRAVE, CRAVE, Learning to Live Together, and others, in countries, where these challenges persist, for youth and faith leaders to work together to push back the ideologies of terror and extremism.
I propose the establishment of such concrete initiatives to provide youth movements with tools in each and every country where extremism and terrorism have taken root, and threaten the fabric of those societies. And I call upon those that can, to support these initiatives.
These initiatives can be driven by youth movements, and should focus on rolling back the negative effects of terrorism and extremism, besides actively fighting terrorists’ and extremists’ ideological foundations.
Mustafa Y. Ali, PhD
Secretary General, Global Network of Religions for Children (GNRC), and
Director, Arigatou International – Nairobi Office