This post is part of the group contribution and best practices shared during the Euro-Mediterranean Training Course: Youth Work Preventing Violent Extremism, implemented by the Association of Human Rights Educators AHEAD from the 14th till the 21st October 2018 in Comarruga (Tarragona).
In the context of the Lebanese internal clashes and conflicts that occurred in Lebanon in the past three years, there was a need for actions, projects, and initiatives that reduce the tension and aim building bridges among different communities in Lebanon, especially in the areas that suffered from several clashes.
To this end, the Dialogue for Life and Reconciliation organization in Lebanon organized the “Sustainable Network for the Religious Leaders in the North “project. 30 religious leaders, representing various religious communities in the North of Lebanon, gathered and worked on implementing several activities and initiatives aiming at reducing the tension and clashed between the members of the different communities in their areas. They discussed the potential role they could play in preventing youth recruitment into extremist groups.
Dialogue for Life and Reconciliation organization was able to hold a series of events and activities during these 3 months and DLR was able to break many stereotypes and build interactive bridges among different communities. 30 Religious Leaders were divided in 5 mixed small committees (Sunni, Maronites, Alawites, and Orthodox) and they were asked to work together.
For many, these meetings were the first opportunity they had to meet, cooperate, and work with each other’s, and to work to do their part in counter- acting extremism. Workshops and small group activities [Photos & details on Facebook] helped in creating a strong team spirit, a valid connection and a friendly atmosphere where participants discovered the importance in “investing” in each other and to discover that they are not alone.
Among the major key achievements could be described as following:
- Ability to plan and conduct a one-of-a-kind innovative project in an area suffering from conflicts and tensions.
- Ability to create a strong network of religious leaders who have a positive influence on the youth and brought positive impact on the different part of the society in the North of Lebanon.
- Providing a strong basis for religious leaders to be more connected together and to plan for activities and workshop they are leading.
- Reaching out to several communities and groups in Tripoli (North of Lebanon): Universities students, schools students, a network of 30 NGOs working in Tripoli, and future religious leaders. More than 500 persons were positively affected in this project.
- Involving families in gatherings was also a shining sign that allowed this network to extend its impact very deeply on a larger part of the society. It was possible to build solid bridges and connecting together not only religious leaders, but also their families.
- The activities and workshops allowed the religious leaders to meet each other on regular basis, and gave them the opportunity to share different ideas and debate a variety of suggestions… it created solid bond.
- The activities encouraged the members of the network to implement the action plan they came up with. They have planned together all the details pertaining to this workshop: agenda, type of activities, target groups, and content of the activities.