THANK YOU to everyone who helped make this challenge such a SUCCESS!! In addition to the $102K raised, you helped us win over $71K in prizes.
If you didn't get a chance, you can still help build a world without violence:
In 35 countries, our teams work with all sides of a conflict to ignite shared solutions and stop the destruction.
For example, read this letter from our President, Shamil Idriss, about the violent extremism that threatens countries from Morocco to Indonesia:
“We are scared of Muslims and we should be – are you sure you are doing enough to stop the violence that seems to be spinning out of control?”
The young woman who put this question to me recently was voicing what many others feel. My initial instinct – to try to reason with her fear of a diverse community that makes up nearly a quarter of the world’s population – gave way to a deeper recognition.
ISIS’s tactics are working. Give now to stop youth recruitment.
The gruesome violence they broadcast on a near-weekly basis and the highly-publicized recruitment of young people from around the world have accomplished their goal. The world’s attention is on their radical agenda. People are scared.
Tragically, the recruitment of young people into extremist groups is not new. Alienation, identity crisis, or even a youthful desire to change the world can easily be manipulated by sophisticated propagandists and recruiters.
After working more than 30 years in some of the world’s most violent places, we at Search for Common Ground know the best way to counter recruitment to violence is to offer young people meaningful ways to make a difference.
The fear fomented by terrorist groups makes it easy to overlook the growing and powerful movement of heroic young leaders who reject violence and uphold human dignity. Some of the strongest voices come from across the Muslim world. In places like Lebanon, Indonesia, Nigeria and Kyrgyzstan, we at Search have the privilege to partner with many of these courageous youth.
Consider Imam El Mortada, a young conservative religious leader who leads prayers for several mosques in Al-Hoceima, Morocco – a region known to be a revolutionary hotbed and fertile recruiting ground for extremist groups. After going to an interfaith meeting at a nearby church he received frightening death threats that forced him to question his actions.
El Mortada credits Search’s training for strengthening his resolve to face these threats and speak out even more strongly for tolerance and against violence. Of one man who threatened to kill him, El Mortada says, “After I sat with this man and spoke with him for a while, I forgave him…it was clear that what this man needed was a conversation…however different someone is from you, it doesn’t make them evil.”
Consider Yousef Zinedine, a man convicted of murder after he chased and fought with a knife-wielding thief who had stolen a woman’s purse. Sentenced to prison for 15 years, he was released after 5 years in recognition that he had acted in self-defense. Yousef was unable to find a job due to his record, but our Morocco team saw his tremendous peacebuilding potential and hired him.
Yousef quickly rose to become our lead trainer in alternative dispute resolution. He took this training into an environment he knows well, a place where non-violent conflict resolution is desperately needed but where no international organizations have previously gained access: Morocco’s prisons. Yousef now trains the prison directors, guards, and prisoners in more than 70% of Morocco’s prisons, helping reduce levels of violence. He mentors convicted extremists as they try to reintegrate into society, preventing a return to violence.
We refuse to allow violence, no matter how sensationalized, to derail us from this crucial work or distract us from the larger trends going on around the world. Young people are engaging constructively, non-violently, and powerfully on a larger scale than at any other time in history.
This is why the youth councils we’ve established in every governorate across Tunisia are overflowing with demand from young people who want to be heard. They want to be part of improving their communities.
Through political processes or community initiatives in every region where we work, youth are playing a lead role in creating a more just and peaceful world.
To answer my questioner’s challenge, are we doing enough? No. But with your support, we can get there, together with Imam El Mortada, Yousef, and thousands like them.
Help us create such compelling and substantial ways for young people to effect positive change in the world that they won’t have any reason to look for meaning in violence.
Will you support young people like Yousef and Imam El Mortada? Through the Skoll Social Entreprenuers fundraising challenge, your gift might be double or tripled.
Give $30, $120 or $350 to recruit and train young people to be peace heroes.
President and CEO
Search for Common Ground