Interfaith Dialogue On Violent Extremism (iDOVE)

February 23, 2017

Interfaith Dialogue On Violent Extremism (iDOVE)

Intercontinental Youth Forum (IYF)


Addis Ababa, Ethiopia 21 - 23 February 2017: The African Union Citizens and Diaspora Directorate (CIDO) in partnership with the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ), Institute for Peace and Security Studies (IPSS), and All Africa Conference of Churches (AACC) concluded its 3 day Interfaith Dialogue on Violent Extremism (IDOVE) -Intercontinental Youth Forum held at the African Union headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

The Forum

The intercontinental youth forum (IYF) brought together forty (40) Youth from over 32 countries in Africa and Europe, who’ve demonstrated leadership in the field of Preventing Violent Extremism (PVE) in their respective societies.

Amb. Jalel Chelba, CIDO Head of Division in addressing the youth, applauded the 40 participants who were selected out of a pool of 4000 applications; he further acknowledged the importance of the youth coming together to design contemporary, innovative and youth-friendly solutions in understanding radicalization and means to tackle violent extremism.

The uniqueness of the forum was not just in providing a platform for the youth leaders to share their experiences, but in its ability to nurture cutting edge ideas on PVE , its ability to draw on the soft power of religion through interfaith dialogue tools, and the empowerment of youth through the development of a framework for the iDove small scale initiatives i.e. Communication &virtual initiatives and innovative community based initiatives. The developed framework will form the basis for the call for application for iDove projects that will soon be advertised

PVE   Understanding & Tackling it Creatively

To provide further insight into PVE, the forum allowed the participants to interact with scholars and practitioners in the field of PVE including the presence of two former radicalized persons who shared their stories and testimonials on the reasons leading to their joining and later their disengagement with the extremism groups, i.e. religious and Neo Nazis.

The forum generated discussions on the different types of extremism relevant to the two continents most notably religious Extremism and Right Wing Extremism and the different traditional and creative approaches used to tackle it in the two contexts. Dr. Negeh Ibrahim, (former leader of the “Al-jama'a Al-islamiyya” Jihadi group) emphasized the need for different approaches for individuals with radical thoughts as opposed to violent extremists. He further expounded on that explaining that prisons, depending on its conditions and rule of law can provide a space for reform or for breeding extremism. Sharing the platform was Mr. Robert Örell, a former neo Nazi, who is also working on disengaging individuals from the movement through support that is adapted to each specific individual, and often using the help of former extremists, social workers and therapists.

Building on the above, creative approaches to PVE through the use of Arts for storytelling. This session was delivered by two speakers; Mr. Bjorn Ihler, a former survivor of the Utoya attack in Norway who uses technology and theater to build peace, and Ms. Sara Elkhashab through her animation storybook ‘Wahi’ project which uses animation & cartoons to tell stories regarding the inner-struggle (internal Jihad), shed light on the true meaning of religious texts, and talk about challenges of interfaith in general, in a simple and peaceful manner.

iDove Network & iDover identity

The 3 day forum succeeded in building an intercontinental network called the iDove Network, where uniqueness, respect, open mindedness featured as  some of the characteristics ascribed to the iDover identity. The IYF concluded with a Public Forum on ‘Understanding de-radicalization & tackling violent extremism in creative ways’, which in addition to bringing the speakers above, introduced iDove and showcased some of the initiatives the iDovers are doing in their respective contexts and the future collaborations currently brewing.

Note to Editor

The Directorate of Citizens and Diaspora Organizations (CIDO) is designed to serve as a catalyst to facilitate the involvement of African peoples in Africa and around the world in the affairs of the AU. CIDO has two divisions, the Civil Society Division and the Diaspora Division. It also has a unit that serves as the Secretariat of the Economic, Social and Cultural Council (ECOSOCC). The Council, which is composed of civil society organizations (CSOs) and non-state organs, was established in 2004 as an advisory organ to the AU.

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For further information: Directorate of Information and Communication | African Union Commission I E-mail: I Website: ; I Addis Ababa | Ethiopia

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