Interfaith Youth Movement Growing Worldwide

July 29, 2008

Author: Mohamed Elshinnawi

Source: VOA News

In many societies around the world where religious differences have boiled into armed conflict, young people are at particular risk. Often, they are recruited by religious extremists to join in terror campaigns against rival religious communities. But as we hear from in this report written by VOA's Mohamed Elshinnawi, a growing interfaith youth movement is working to counter the extremists, and to give young people the tools and training they need to build more peaceful, tolerant societies.

From its headquarters in the midwestern city of Chicago, a private organization known as the Interfaith Youth Core is training what it hopes will be tomorrow's peace-makers. The not-for-profit American group teaches young people how to build bridges of friendship and understanding across cultures and faiths. It provides leadership training, program funding and support for networking projects among groups of young people around the world.

Dr. Eboo Patel, a well-known Muslim and social activist in the United States, is the founder and director of Interfaith Youth Core. He says young American Muslims are at the forefront of the interfaith youth movement.

"They use it as an opportunity to manifest the peace-building commands within Islam," Patel says. "They use it as an opportunity to articulate their very misunderstood religion in the world. And they use it as an opportunity to get to know people from different backgrounds with whom they share many values."