News

    Interfaith Youth Movement Growing Worldwide

    In many societies around the world where religious differences have boiled into armed conflict, young people are at particular risk.  Often, they are recruited by religious extremists to join in terror campaigns against rival religious communities. But as we hear from in this report written by VOA's Mohamed Elshinnawi, a growing interfaith youth movement is working to counter the extremists, and to give young people the tools and training they need to build more peaceful, tolerant societies.

    From its headquarters in the midwestern city of Chicago, a private organization known as the Interfaith Youth Core is training what it hopes will be tomorrow's peace-makers.  The not-for-profit American group teaches young people how to build bridges of friendship and understanding across cultures and faiths.  It provides leadership training, program funding and support for networking projects among groups of young people around the world.


    Young Muslims at Forefront of Interfaith Youth Movement in U.S. 

    Dr. Eboo Patel, a well-known Muslim and social activist in the United States, is the founder and director of Interfaith Youth Core. He says young American Muslims are at the forefront of the interfaith youth movement.

    "They use it as an opportunity to manifest the peace-building commands within Islam," Patel says. "They use it as an opportunity to articulate their very misunderstood religion in the world. And they use it as an opportunity to get to know people from different backgrounds with whom they share many values."

    Young people comprise a large and growing percentage of the populations in many of the most religiously volatile corners of the world.  These are often places, says Patel, where traditional socio-economic patterns are breaking down, where people from different backgrounds and faiths are interacting more closely and competing for influence, and where frictions are mounting between religious and civil law.

    In this turmoil, Patel says, it can be difficult for young people of faith to understand the value of a pluralistic and tolerant society.  He believes the interfaith youth movement he's helping to build focuses on some essential truths: that people of all faiths deserve to be treated with dignity and respect, and that there can be no peace between nations without peace between religions.

    Youth Recruit for Peace in Middle East 

    Samuel Rizk is the founding member of the Forum for Development, Culture and Dialogue, a private group based in Beirut, Lebanon, that specializes in conflict resolution and religious dialogue. Rizk believes the interfaith youth movement has been an important counter-strategy against extremist recruiters.

    "The [interfaith] youth movement can actually recruit them for peace initiatives," he says.  "We can provide models for co-existence in different parts of the world; then clearly that would be a help to peace in the future.

    Rizk says the movement's belief in religious pluralism is a key part of its efforts to help defuse seemingly intractible conflicts in the Middle East and elsewhere.

    "Now we are talking about relationships between Muslims and Christian young people. In another instance we are talking about relationships between Sunnis & Shias," Rizk says. "I think there will come a time, hopefully, when there is peace in the Middle East that we can expand to include Muslims and Christians and Jews."

    Reaching Out to Young European Muslims 

    The U.S government, too, recognizes the importance of this interfaith youth movement.  Farah Pandith is a specialist with the U.S. State Department's Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs. Her office works with young European Muslims interested in studying the American model of religious pluralism.

    She is hopeful that they are "sharp enough and strong enough when they are dealing with their identity problem, and they are being told that they cannot belong, they are being told they are different, and they are being told that the Jews and the Christians are not their friends, that they have the ability to be able to push back against that insane ideology."  

    Farah believes that educating young Muslims in Europe and elsewhere, as they struggle to find their identities in today's chaotic world, can help them appreciate the value of peaceful interfaith dialogues, and so better resist the lure of religious extremism.

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movementi
    X
    July 22, 2016 11:49 AM
    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movement

    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video Scientists in Poland Race to Save Honeybees

    Honeybees are in danger worldwide. Causes of what's known as colony collapse disorder range from pesticides and loss of habitat to infections. But scientists in Poland say they are on track to finding a cure for one of the diseases. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Wall Already Runs Along Parts of US-Mexico Border

    The Republican Party’s presidential nominee, Donald Trump, gained the support of many voters by saying he would build a wall to keep undocumented immigrants and drugs from coming across the border from Mexico. Critics have called his idea impractical and offensive to Mexico, while supporters say such a bold approach is needed to control the border. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from the border town of Nogales, Arizona.
    Video

    Video New HIV Tests Emphasize Rapid Results

    As the global fight against AIDS intensifies, activists have placed increasing importance on getting people to know their HIV status. Some companies are developing new HIV testing methods designed to be quick, easy and accurate. Thuso Khumalo looks at the latest methods, presented at the International AIDS conference in Durban, South Africa.
    Video

    Video African Youth with HIV Urge More Support

    HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, is the top killer of teens in sub-Saharan Africa. But many youths say their experience with the virus is unique and needs to be addressed differently than the adult epidemic. VOA South African Correspondent Anita Powell reports.
    Video

    Video Poor Residents in Cleveland Not Feeling High Hopes of Republican Convention

    With the Republican Party's National Convention underway in Cleveland, Ohio, delegates and visitors are gathered in the host city's downtown - waiting to hear from the party's presidential candidate, Donald Trump. But a few kilometers from the convention's venue, Cleveland's poorest residents are not convinced Trump or his policies will make a difference in their lives. VOA's Ramon Taylor spoke with some of these residents as well as some of the Republican delegates and filed this report.
    Video

    Video Pop-Up Art Comes to Your Living Room, Backyard and Elsewhere

    Around the world, independent artists and musicians wrestle with a common problem: where to exhibit or perform? Traditional spaces such as museums and galleries are reserved for bigger names, and renting a space is not feasible for many. Enter ArtsUp, which connects artists with venue owners. Whether it’s a living room, restaurant, office or even a boat, pop-up events are bringing music and art to unexpected places. Tina Trinh has more.
    Video

    Video With Yosemite as Backdrop, Obama Praises National Parks

    Last month, President Barack Obama and his family visited some of the most beautiful national parks in the U.S. Using the majestic backdrop of a towering waterfall in California's Yosemite National Park, Obama praised the national park system which celebrates its 100th anniversary this year. He talked about the importance of America’s “national treasures” and the need to protect them from climate change and other threats. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
    Video

    Video Counter-Islamic State Coalition Plots Next Steps

    As momentum shifts against Islamic State in Iraq, discussions are taking place about the next steps for driving the terrorist group from its final strongholds. Secretary of State John Kerry is hosting a counter-IS meeting at the State Department, a day after defense ministers from more than 30 countries reviewed and agreed upon a course of action. VOA Pentagon correspondent Carla Babb reports.
    Video

    Video Russia's Participation at Brazil Olympic Games Still In Question

    The International Olympic Committee has delayed a decision on whether to ban all Russian teams from competing in next month's Olympic Games in Brazil over allegations of an elaborate doping scheme. The World Anti-Doping Agency recently released an independent report alleging widespread doping by Russian athletes at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. So far, only Russian track and field athletes have been barred from the Summer Games in Brazil. VOA's Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Scotland’s Booming Whisky Industry Fears Brexit Hangover

    After Britain’s vote to leave the European Union, Scotland’s government wants to break away from the United Kingdom – fearing the nation’s exports are at risk. Among the biggest of these is whisky. Henry Ridgwell reports on a time of turmoil for those involved in the ancient art of distilling Scotland’s most famous product.
    Video

    Video Millennials Could Determine Who Wins Race to White House

    With only four months to go until Americans elect a new president, one group of voters is getting a lot more attention these days: those ages 18 to 35, a generation known as millennials. It’s a demographic that some analysts say could have the power to decide the 2016 election. But a lot depends on whether they actually turn out to vote. VOA’s Alexa Lamanna reports.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora