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2019 Femyso organised in cooperation with the Council of Europe, the study session titled “Reclaim Your Narrative”. The event took place in Hungary from 4 to 8 March 2019, and it was held at the European Youth Center Budapest (EYCB). 

The event was attended by 38 participants from 16 European countries who participated in an intense and productive 5-day program; a study session aimed at empowering young Muslims and encouraging them to take part in media in order to reclaim the narrative and make their voices heard. 

The participants had the opportunity to discuss ideas through shared experience across the European landscape, to educate them on exercising their human rights, the relevant work and instruments of the Council of Europe, to explore the importance of narratives and the role they play and their impact, to develop capacity to shape their narratives allowing them to represent themselves and their communities on multiple levels and to receive theoretical and practical skills necessary to push the narrative within their own context. 

The end of the Media Study Session witnessed the realisation of different campaigns on issues with the aim to raise awareness among Europe 

Further information:  

the “Reclaim Your Narrative” study session that took place in Budapest from the 4th – 8th of March 2019. Conducted by FEMYSO in partnership with Youth Department of the Council of Europe, saw a very high demand from the very beginning of its announcement. With over 109 participants from across Europe applying, in an effort to take part in this study session. It became clear from the beginning for the need for such a session to take place. Now more than ever, it has become crucial for minority voices to be heard. Without a doubt, the media plays a significant and crucial role in today’s society. Through media, narratives are created and shaped particularly in relation to individuals, communities and societies. Not only that but the media has become a major tool for political bodies, corporations and think-tanks to advertise their work and promote their ideas and perceptions of society. 

In light of continuous negative representation of the media on minorities and the impact it plays. The difficult socio-economic situations along with the violent terrorists’ attacks that have occurred and ongoing wars in different parts of the world, have fed the negative narratives and stereotypes towards minorities. For example, these include accusations of responsibility for the decrease in job opportunities, national debts or responsibility for the terrorist’s attacks that have affected thousands of lives in Europe. 

Being part of the narrative is necessary but unfortunately many voices have not been heard yet. This was tackled through the study session, by strengthening and broadening the media landscape and with that society as a whole. European minority youth developed their voices, ensured they were heard through various different projects they developed and for some continued to develop till this day. From this session participants were also helped in becoming active European citizens. A crucial campaign that took place both during the study session and after was the need and requirements for Muslim European youth to vote during the European elections 2019 and to which they did and raised so passionately within their communities. 

A group of 35 participants took part in this study session both from within FEMYSO’s member organisation network and outside. Participants became equipped with different knowledge, attitude and skills. Above all they gained more confidence in becoming educators and ambassadors to reclaim their own narratives within their own communities, societies and 

networks. With the rise of various platforms for minorities to gain access and attempt to represent themselves and become their own voices. The Study Session focused on the development of various mediums that can empower European minority youth to propagate their own narratives. It also developed and built a European network of young people, helping, engaging and empowering each other to recognise opportunities and threats that could enhance or even damage their narratives. It managed to push out new narratives that could potentially help in creating and adding to the inclusivity of today’s society in an effort to begin creating opportunities and holistic changes in the media landscape. 

The experience was beyond phenomenal both for the delivering team and the participants. It allowed for the development of competent individuals to represent themselves both on national and European level. The expectation went over and beyond the working team, particularly from the participation commitment and development. Self-reflection and feedback were emphasised throughout the session. The study session became greatly enhanced by the astonishing participants contribution. 

Results and Conclusions 

The study session was intense, and the participants really lived up to the expectation, if not exceeded the expectations of the organising team with their immense dedication and passion throughout the study session. The study session facilitated for building a strong network between this group of young Muslims who come from a diverse background, this group of activists discussed the challenges and opportunities on the topic narratives specifically of Muslims in Europe. 

The participants got introduced and familiarised themselves with the concept of non-formal education, which is a great outcome of the study session, as they should be utilising that approach in their future programmes. Through the non-formal sessions and discussions, the participants realised that the increased hate-speech against Muslims is common and on the rise across Europe, that includes the media in its different forms. The participants came with the realisation that they need to be proactive about countering the current and increased hate-speech against Muslims, though the resources are limited they need to work around it. 

The study session has equipped the participating Muslim youth with the necessary tools and skills to counter the negative narrative but also focused on being proactive on creating their own narratives. Through the different sessions the participants had to work on creating their narratives in a creative manner and amplifying it through different mediums, they worked mostly in groups. They got to understand the concept of narrative in its different forms, and they got more familiar with the concept of human rights and how to utilise it to reclaim their narratives. 

The participants got comfortable and confident with various key tools such media landscape mapping, stakeholder mapping, target audience analysis, campaign planning and communications grid. In addition, they were inducted through the guest experts to skills such as art of storytelling, also how do develop and produce blogs, vlogs and podcasts with very low resources. 

The European parliament elections was discussed where the participants agreed on the importance of engaging with and encouraging their communities to participate in the elections. They realised the power of their participation and the importance of increasing their knowledge about the EU institutions. As a result, after the study sessions a lot of the participants engaged with the FEMYSO European Parliament elections campaign and developed activities on their local level. 

The participants worked on group campaign projects from day 3 of the study session, where we saw seven campaigns being fully realised from scratch. All the campaigns went live via 

social media, and were presented in depth on the final day of the study session. This part of the programme was key as it got the young participants to realise that they can work in diverse teams while being under time pressure and with low resources to create a fully operating campaign that aims at reclaiming their narrative. 

The participants of the study session and FEMYSO believe that the Council of Europe and other EU institutions must continue to champion advocating for human rights and against all forms of hate-speech. FEMYSO also believes that the EU institutions must introduce more firm working policies and legislations against Islamophobia. FEMYSO is willing to further collaborate with the Council of Europe to develop and run a study session that focuses on combating Islamophobia, and it will be ideal if this is co-hosted by groups from other backgrounds too as the fight against Islamophobia and all forms of discrimination should be collective. FEMYSO sees itself as a key partner to the Council of Europe and specifically the youth department, and see the involvement of FEMYSO in the policy making level is key. The cooperation with the European Youth Foundation was also developed and participants expressed their commitment to making it more valuable and functional to the implementation of their projects. 

Call For Participants: “Reclaim Your Narrative” Media Study Session: