Friday,22 February, 2019
Current issue | Issue 1368, (9 - 15 November 2017)
Friday,22 February, 2019
Issue 1368, (9 - 15 November 2017)

Ahram Weekly

A message of hope

The World Youth Forum (WYF) that opened Sunday in the Red Sea resort of Sharm El-Sheikh, sponsored by President Abdel-Fattah Al-Sisi, is Egypt’s message to the world on the importance of dialogue among different cultures on pressing issues that pose a threat to all humanity.

According to Egypt’s latest population census, over 60 per cent of Egyptians are younger than 35 years old. The same situation exists in many world countries, confirming that the views of the youth must be heard, not least as they form a majority.

For this reason, the WYF has brought together over 3,000 young people from 113 states under the slogan “We Need to Talk”. And there is indeed a lot to talk about. 

Youth must be the first to speak out against the increasing threat of terrorism, which is a danger not only facing Egypt and the Middle East region, but the entire world. Terrorism is not linked to one religion, and many attacks in Europe and the United States have been orchestrated by right-wing extremists who equally use religion to justify their hateful crimes.

The Middle East region, meanwhile, should focus all efforts on combating terrorism, considering the state of disintegration that several Arab countries, including Syria, Libya, Iraq and Yemen, suffer at the hands of terrorist groups such as the Islamic State group, Al-Qaeda and the Muslim Brotherhood.

Yet, the efforts of Arab and Muslim countries alone will not succeed without similar efforts made by Europe and the United States, because their policies towards the region are an important factor that influences the activities of terrorist groups.

We can only imagine how much more stable the situation in the Middle East region would have been had former US president George W Bush bowed to world pressure and refrained from unilaterally invading and occupying Iraq, killing nearly one million people, stirring sectarian tensions and creating safe havens for terrorist organisations in Iraq and several other countries.

A balanced and fair position by Europe and the United States towards the Palestinian-Israeli conflict would also help tremendously in calming the situation in this volatile region. The Palestinian cause, and the right of Palestinians to have their own state on their land, has always been the litmus test for many Arab and Muslim youth on how consistent the West has been vis-à-vis the slogans it raises on human rights and justice. 

With the world turning into a small village connected through myriad means of communication, there is a lot to exchange in terms of experience and strategies on how best to limit the threat of terrorism, an immediate necessity given that totally uprooting it will definitely take time.

The threats of wars, striking imbalances in wealth and education levels, illegal immigration, the control by multinationals over world economies, are certainly among the many important topics world youth will debate and differ on in Sharm El-Sheikh.

A special session titled “Differences among Cultures and Civilisations: Conflict or Integration?” is an example of the important topics the youth will discuss during the forum, focusing on how humanitarian issues can contribute to achieving rapprochement among civilisations, and how cultural diversity can help enrich civilisations rather than weaken them. At least 45 other discussion sessions will be held during the week-long forum, attended by 70 official delegations, including leaders and senior officials from different countries, in addition to envoys from the United Nations, the Arab League and the African Union.

The forum, the first of its kind to be held in Egypt, will also be addressed by over 200 speakers from 64 countries.

Such discussions will certainly boost dialogue between the youth and decision-makers, and provide a platform for youth from different parts of the world to interact, share thoughts and exchange cultures and experiences.

The WYF is a message of peace from Egypt to the world, and hopefully the beginning of restoring a sense of confidence among world countries that Egypt is a safe country where they can come to debate, and also to enjoy its beautiful nature and historic, unique heritage sites dating back thousands of years.

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