Several initiatives have emerged to address the growing threat of extreme hostility toward others. The primary areas of interest for this project are identified in the work of the Alliance of Civilizations and the U.S. – Muslim Engagement Project. These include: use of mass media to convey messages of reason and toleration to lower tensions and hostilities; job training and employment opportunities for young people in vulnerable areas; education to improve understanding of and respect for Muslim history and culture for people in the US and the West, and education to improve understanding of and respect for Western history and culture for Muslim populations; cross-cultural and interfaith exchanges and dialogues using the internet as well as direct interaction; engage the business community as partners for building peace; etc.
The project could include media campaigns in the US and in other countries to advance the concepts of tolerance, mutual respect, and peaceful coexistence. This might include opinion pieces, human interest stories, and possibly entertainment themes for the print news and broadcast media.
Job Training & Employment
Lack of jobs and hope for a better future are known to drive some young people into the camps of extremists, so programs that provide job training and open career opportunities could be developed and supported. Inadequate social and economic development in several predominantly Muslim countries, particularly in Africa, has provided fertile ground for extremist groups to attract followers. This project could be part of a larger US and international effort to improve living conditions worldwide.
Role of Women
The role of and respect for women has been a source of conflict among various cultures and traditions, and the issue must be addressed in a way that respects cultures and traditions while protecting the rights of and respect for women.
Several existing programs and initiatives could be supported through the project. Search for Common Ground, for example, broadcasts radio and television programs into communities that have a history of animosity to help them understand their common humanity regardless of race, faith, geography, or tribe. The Coexistence International program at Brandeis University studies conflicts among cultures and develops strategies to achieve peaceful coexistence. Empower Peace uses teleconference technology to link students from the Middle East with students in the US to build mutual respect and understanding. Peace x Peace builds local networks among women of different faiths and cultures to promote dialogue and mutual understanding. These are but a few examples of organizations that help advance reason, understanding and tolerance among cultures and societies that might otherwise cultivate extremists and promote violence.
Programs that help achieve those complex objectives need support. The leadership team will consider these and other strategies to help strengthen moderate values and leaders in order to focus resources where they will have the greatest impact..