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FEMYSO participated in the Second Summit on Religion, Peace and Security in Geneva

FEMYSO participated in the Second Summit on Religion, Peace and Security, heldat Palais des Nations Unies, United Nations in Geneva, from the 29th April to 1stof May 2019.

The core theme of the summit was building bridges, fostering inclusivity andcountering hate speech to enhance the protection of religious minorities,refugees and migrants. The summit was co-organised by the United NationsOffice on Genocide Prevention and Responsibility to Protect (1) and theInternational Association for the Defense of Religious Liberty (AIDLR)(2). Thisthree day summit brought together religious leaders, academics, youth, memberstates and others to tackle these core themes that are affecting the very core ofour societies.

The rise of atrocity crimes and violent extremism has been manifested in everypart of society over the past few decades. The misuse of religion to justify suchacts has been the reason for the rise and expansion of intolerance, hate speechand nationalist movements worldwide. Over the past two months, we havewitnessed Synagogues, Churches and Mosques becoming targets of those claiming to be either from far right ideologies or in the name of religion. The media has also played a huge role in inflating fake news and drawing ourattention away from the core issues, and targeting the most vulnerable.

Simultaneously, national and international peace and security has been on the agenda of many member states since before WW1. In the most recent years, there has been increased disputes over the introduction of new measures worldwide to tackle and combat challenges around peace and security. However, in several cases this has led to the limitation of fundamental rights and freedoms, including the rights to freedom of religion and belief and freedom of expression and opinion. This is why, it is of utmost importance for different actors to work together to protect fundamental rights. Member states must show their obligation in protecting these very rights set out by the UN Human Rights Charter and adhere to the very rights they signed up for.

For this purpose, AIDLR(2) and the United Nations Office on Genocide Prevention and the Responsibility to Protect convened a Second Global Summit. Bringing together representatives to discuss ways to enhance the protection and promote human rights of religious minorities, refugees and migrants by building bridges, countering discrimination and hate speech and fostering inclusivity.

This was carried out by analysing challenges and opportunities, highlighting knowledge, lessons learned and good practices in this field of inclusivity and bridges building. While including and discussing how the ‘dialogue five’stakeholders (religious leaders and actors, states diplomats, civil society, politicians, media and business) can effectively work together and complement each other’s work in this regard. Moreover, the Summit was an opportunity to share information, experiences, expertise and best practices on promoting peace and respect for a cohesive society.

FEMYSO, a European umbrella organisation representing 31 member organisations, over 23 European countries presented young European Muslims at this summit. Our Board of Trustee, Hajar Al-Kaddo, as a panelist shared insight son the political, human rights and humanitarian challenges for the protection of religious minorities, refugees and migrants. As well as the importance of youth involvement in facing these challenges, emphasising the need for promoting interfaith dialogue worldwide.

For over 20 years, FEMYSO has been promoting and actively working on interfaith action and cohesion within European society. During the panel FEMYSO also shared lessons learnt from some of these actions, and showcased our latest campaign on bringing Muslim youth to the forefront of European Society through their right to vote at the next European Elections this year (3). Such actions are carried out to build better foundations for productive and respectful understanding within society.

There was a clear message sent to all present at the summit, that young people must be at the forefront of making positive change, and bridging the gap between religious leadership, politicians and civil society. FEMYSO will continue to work towards bridging this gap to protect freedom of religion and belief and freedom of expression and opinion for all. The final outcome of the summit was the drafting of a Plan of Action to reach aset of objectives based on participants inputs and discussions. We look forward to the implementation of this plan as part of a collaborative international effort with young people at the very front.