Fighting Radicalism with Radical Collaboration

How each individual act can be a part of combating extremism.

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For the last 15 years, Fadi Daou, co-founder of the Adyan Foundation (and Elevate Prize Winner 2020) has been led by this conviction to work for sustainable peace in the MENA (Middle East and North Africa) region. Through community-building and education, the organization empowers people to reject extremist movements. So, for Fadi, watching recent events rapidly unfold in Afghanistan has been especially challenging. “I’m deeply saddened by the degree of radicalization that we’re witnessing,” he says, “And I’m very concerned that it will be seen as an example of success to motivate other extremists around the world.”

“We live in a global world, but often we think and act on a local level, even though our actions have wide-reaching implications. The challenge of Afghanistan is a global one. We could be facing waves of extremism in the future, inspired by what we are seeing there now. The only way to face it is to be open to each other and to work together.”

Diverse and open collaboration has always been key to Fadi’s approach, and it can come from unexpected places. “Working together — especially with those who want to be peacemakers and make positive change — makes us so much stronger than we can be alone.” So it was no surprise when one such collaboration was forged in an Elevate Prize winners’ workshop, where Fadi connected with Trisha Prabhu, the founder of ReThink; an organization dedicated to conquering cyberbullying through an app that gives users a chance to reconsider their messages before they send them.

“Both of our organizations are committed to promoting respect for others,” says Fadi. “We talked a lot about how we can help children not to fall into hate speech, especially on social media. Now we’re working together to see how we can use the ReThink app on Arabic keyboards, or English keyboards used by Arabs, and we’re sharing our expertise on a curriculum level — how to educate on diversity and pluralism to promote understanding and peace.”

For Fadi, collaborations, whether large or small, are the foundation of change. They bring together people with different experiences, and allow them to find strength and power in those differences.

“Diversity is about accepting the values of other people. That’s how we build reconciliation. That’s how we build peace.”

No matter where we live, each of us can make a difference by

  • listening to others — and getting educated on the issues we care about.
  • engaging with activism, writing, petitioning, and amplifying voices for change.
  • committing to using the language of peace and inclusivity in our own lives.

The hope? That thousands of individual acts of love over hate will make a global impact.

“The challenges we face are huge,” says Fadi. “But never forget, we can always, always make a difference if we work together.”

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