Second Round of Youth Symposium for Peace & Tolerance | Kabul– AFGHANISTAN

The second round of Youth Symposiums for Peace & Tolerance, initiated by the Afghanistan Economic and Legal Studies Organization (AELSO) in collaboration with Rana University and other national and international organizations successfully organized in Kabul province.

Youths, university professors and students, civil and human rights activists, cultural and social activists from different parts of the country participated in this symposium.

The speakers and participants of the program had a comprehensive discussion on the role of youth in educating and promoting values ​​of peace, prosperity, mutual acceptance and pluralism in the society. They all considered the culture of tolerance as of crucial importance for ensuring peace and ending the ongoing war and violence.

Prof. Zabihullah Afra head of Law and Political science department of Rana University talked about youth, peace, prosperity and tolerance.

He said:

“Afghanistan is one of the few countries with the youngest population which is considered a unique opportunity for the country, but since we couldn’t properly manage this opportunity, it has been turned into a challenge. The main reason behind youths joining radical groups is our inability in properly managing this opportunity which has contributed to creating lots of big challenges for the society.”

Prof. Zabihullah Afra, Head of Law & Political Science Department of Rana University

He further added:

“In today’s situation, those societies are in peace that possesses the weapon of knowledge and wisdom, and if we want to ensure sustainable peace in the country, we need educated and knowledgeable young generation. According to him, the supremacy of ideology over philosophy and wisdom is another fundamental challenge for peace, tolerance and prosperity of societies because ideology seeks supremacy and hegemony. Seeking supremacy deprives human societies from peace and mutual acceptance and contributes in enhancing violence.”

He recommended three things for tackling this challenge and turning it into an opportunity:

  1. Supremacy of Right paradigm over Obligation paradigm: the first paradigm is being followed in most of today’s developed societies while the main ideological source of today’s extremist groups are the second one.
  2. Promoting the principle of tolerance: promoting the principle of tolerance can be one of the effective solutions because the main reason behind the success of liberal school of thoughts over other political ideas is the existence of tolerance as the key value in this school of through.
  3. Supremacy of philosophy over ideology can also be one of the helpful solutions; human intellect with the capacity of negotiation is the basis of peace and mutual acceptance. True democracy is about digesting criticism but not getting sick of it, and the weak point of ongoing peace talks is forcing one side’s ideology over another.

Associate Professor Manizha Ramizy, another keynote speaker of the program, while speaking about the role of youth in educating and promoting the values ​​of peace, prosperity and mutual acceptance said:

“It is the youth who are the main power behind moving the wheel of war in Afghanistan. Efforts should be collaborated in utilizing from their capacities in a positive way and turning them into the architects of peace and helmsman of stability.”

She added:

“Formal education such as colleges & universities, and informal education such as this symposium can be useful tools for promoting the values of peace, prosperity and tolerance.”

Assistant Prof. Manizha Ramizy, Kabul University Lecturer

Mrs. Ramizy while raising the question that Afghanistan needs which type of peace and how youths can contribute to that? Said:

“Sustainable peace which includes good governance, transparency and freedom of speech can be more effective for countries such as Afghanistan. At first, the youth need to fully realize how they contribute to the process, before asking for involvement in the process.”

In part of the symposium the participants got the chance to express their views and thoughts about youths and their role in promoting pluralism and fighting extremism for making an Afghanistan where the values of peace, prosperity and tolerance are ensured.

One of the participants Mr. Masood Pashton who holds a PhD in peace studies said:

“Misinterpretation of Islam, mixing tribal culture and traditions with Islamic believes, lack of national thinking in the academic environment, and lack of awareness about our country’s real culture and traditions, are the reasons that have paved the ground for promoting extremism and extremist ideology in the country.”

Mr. Masood Pashton, One of the participants

Muzhgan Mir Arab while thanking the Afghanistan Economic & Legal Studies Organization (AELSO) for organizing such programs said:

“With such programs, we should strengthen the foundations of unity and solidarity, and to engage country’s elites in managing and leading big processes such as the peace process. As the youth of this country, we should fulfill our mission in promoting the ideas of tolerance and peace”

Ms. Muzhgan Mir Arab, One of the Participants

Faiz Muhammad Rahi one another participants said:

“Pluralism has been created in order to prevent conflict in human societies. We need to promote pluralism in order to end the conflict and achieve peace.”

Mr. Faiz Muhammad Rahi, One of the participants

Omid Pacha while expressing his opinion about Afghanistan’s future said:

“We need to invest more on youth’s intellectual capacity so they will gain the ability to face radicalism and extremism and fight them back. The only way to change Afghanistan is to change its people’s mindset and direct them toward peace, prosperity and tolerance.”

Mr. Omid Pacha, One of the participants

In the continuation of the program, the participants were divided into four groups. Every group discussed the causes of extremism in universities, ways to fight them back, applicable strategies to promote tolerance in the society and its role in ensuring peace and prosperity in Afghanistan. The result of the group discussion has been presented by one of the members from each group.

Participants during group work…

In this symposium, the translated version of the book; Peace, Lover and Liberty written by Tom G Palmer has also been introduced and distributed to the participants by our volunteers so they can understand more about Islam & Liberalism.

Mr. Abdul Qahir Beheshti and Ms. Manizha Ramizy while introducing the Book ” Peace, Love & Liberty”

The Youth Symposium for Peace and tolerance ended with the concluding remarks by the Prof. Zabihullah Afra and Prof. Manizha Ramizy.

Event’s group photo

Few points can be mentioned as the outcome of this symposium:

  1. Afghanistan is one of the few countries with the highest youth population, which is considered as a good potential for promoting liberal democracy in the country. But since we could not properly manage this opportunity, it has been turned into a challenge for the country. In order to properly manage this potential, we need to work on the vertical and horizontal relationships in the society in order to find the mission points and connect the dots.
  2. It is the classic traditions that define our beliefs, and most of these traditions have no place in our core religious beliefs and have been directly opposed and rejected by Islamic Shariah.
  3. Tolerance should be promoted with observing the diversity of beliefs and views in a society.
  4. Development desires capable men, not scientific men; A capable person is one who has the ability to work together and accept criticism
  5. Reforming is a need should be done properly in every aspect of the society such as social reforms and etc.
  6. Insight – method – Knowledge, these three things that should be paid attention making education policies. Education without gaining insights will lead to extremist thoughts.
  7. Working for changes in education policy is a need in order to have quality education based on the three steps mentioned above.