Can effective interfaith communication help prevent and counter violent extremism? Definitely yes. Effective communication paves the pathway for people from different faiths to know each other better. It allows the fostering of mutual understanding and thereby leaves little room for the misuse of religion to fuel violent extremism.
Speaking during the 2018 Youth In Action, the 3rd Regional Youth Forum on Peace Building, Dr. Mustafa Y. Ali, Secretary General of the Global Network of Religions for Children (GNRC), underscored that effective interfaith communication helps achieve interfaith harmony. Through effective communication, people from different faiths engage in cooperative, constructive and positive interactions.
Dr. Mustafa further advised the youth leaders participating in the forum that, being carriers of peace messages in their communities, each of them should denounce radicalisation leading to violent extremism across all media platforms. He challenged the youth leaders to sensitise their communities, through the knowledge acquired at the forum. Drawing from his expertise in media and peacebuilding, Dr. Mustafa echoed the need for the youth leaders to build resilience in addressing violent extremism in the Horn and Eastern Africa region.
“All religions promote and practice peace and as a community, we should not be lured with any alternative narrative that advocates for violence.” Dr. Mustafa Y. Ali
Dr. Mustafa’s sentiments were anchored on this year’s Youth In Action theme, ‘Media and Preventing Violent Extremism’. The event was held from 3rd – 7th September 2018 in Machakos County, Kenya; bringing together nearly 60 youth leaders from Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, Sudan, South Sudan, Tanzania and Uganda.
The need for effective interfaith communication comes in the wake of violent extremist groups fanning hatred between people of different faiths, through the various media platforms. Such violent extremist groups also misinterpret and misuse religious scriptures to justify violence against the religious ‘other’.
It was concluded that through effective interfaith communication, we can indeed prevent and counter violent extremism, thereby creating a peaceful world free of violence and poverty.