Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Postcard From Citizens for Peace and Justice Program in Stockholm

Every time I have the chance to meet young revolutionaries from Arab countries who're visiting Stockholm for a conference or a training course, I feel so excited! I meet them and listen to what they have to say and I just recharge my revolutionary energy. It's remarkable how bright and promising they seem to be.

During the Swedish Institute - Alexandria’s 3-days-program titled, “Citizens for Peace and Justice” that took place in Stockholm, last week, I met a number of activists and journalists from Egypt, Iraq, Libya, Tunisia and Sweden. There was supposed to be a couple of journalists coming from Yemen to participate but there was a problem with their visa and they couldn't make it. (Though, I believe it was intentional mistake by some of the officers at the French Embassy which manages visas to Sweden. I hope there would be an investigation about that by the Swedish Institute of Alexandria) I was very outraged that my fellow journalists in Yemen couldn't join us. However, Yemeni journalist, Hana al-Khamri and I were the participating Yemeni group.

For me, one of the most interesting elements I noticed in the program was the different political ideologies the program attempted to embrace. It brought different political views represented by the participants from the Arab World and Sweden. I must be very frank and say that the Arab participants were way better engaging and expressive than the Swedish participants.

Within the Arab participants, we had two Salafists members from Egypt. - You can imagine how that blown my mind away. I had so many pre-judgmental views about them but, later on, I kinda change my mind. I was very happy to know about "Salafyo Costa Organization" which is an NGO founded by a team of Salfist, Christian and liberal Egyptians working on coexistence in Egypt. Nevertheless, I remain having lots of reservations against Salafism ideology.

We had many of study visits to different political and non-political institutions in Stockholm. It was really interesting what we learned during the program but I had more pleasure by the side-conversations I had with the participants.

Here are few interviews I made with some of the participants.

Tlili Youssef, Member of Ahmed Tlili Foundation for Democratic Culture in Tunisia

Surri Hazim Mahmood, Member of the Bagdad Women Association and Iraqi Al-Amal Association in Iraq

Mohamed Ali Leghuil, Physician and independent activist from Libya