In this podcast, Abeer Albedaiwy shares her views on the fifth Euro-Arab Youth Forum Learning and Practicing Citizenship conference, which began today in Strasbourg.
The European Youth Centre event, organised by the Council of Europe and the League of Arab States, brings together 70 young leaders for three days of workshops, conversation, and exchange.
Albedaiwy believes the forum can accelerate mutual understanding and respect between young people in both regions.
Albedaiwy’s conference wish was also underlined in a keynote speech this morning, by Deputy Secretary General Gabriella Battaini-Dragoni. Setting the tone for the event’s main themes, Battaini-Dragoni hoped the forum would “deepen ties and establish ways that we can work even more closely for the good of the societies we serve.
“Citizenship, ultimately, is about living together peacefully. It is not about being the same. Unlike petty nationalism or extreme ideology, citizenship does not insist that we must each hold identical beliefs. Instead it teaches us to respect each other’s differences while upholding fundamental and universal human rights. Democratic citizenship is the bedrock of plural societies, at ease with our growing diversity.
“However, in many of our countries – members of the Council of Europe and of the League – inclusivity, tolerance and mutual understanding are now under threat.
“More and more, it seems, people – and especially young people – are being asked to abandon democratic ideals; to pick a side and reject all else. And in both Europe and the Arab world we are grappling with radicalisation leading to terrorism.
“I believe that our shared mission is countering these forces of division.”