Independent democratic uprisings and declarations for peace and freedom throughout the Middle East and North Africa have captured the attention of the international community. These widespread demonstrations have ignited a collective Arab voice demanding an end to corrupt governments and calling for sweeping policy changes embracing peace, tolerance and basic human rights. Now, more than ever, it is essential that Muslim and non-Muslim communities alike unite in our efforts to ensure that people all over the world are empowered to have their voices heard by their governments, emphasizing that peaceful and nonviolent means are effective and powerful tools to cause positive change.
The millions of Arab youth and adults who marched the streets of the Arab capitals are a testament to the notion that individuals can bring about lasting change through massive mobilization and nonviolent strategies and actions. Behind the efforts of these millions, are activists, professionals and advocates who have spent their lives in preparation for these days and events. The experiences and stories of such activists and practitioners of peacebuilding and social change should guide and motivate us to further connect with each other to learn and advance the work for peace everywhere.
The daily work of the Salam Institute for Peace and Justice is strongly linked to the current context in which millions of Arabs are protesting as a way to exercise their rights as citizens. In an effort to support local capacities for peace, the Salam Institute recently conducted civic education projects in several African countries, Chad, Niger and Sudan, and the Arab world, bringing together community members, educators, youth and religious leaders alike. Throughout each of these efforts, individuals expressed their need for additional resources in the peacebuilding field, opportunities for capacity building, ways to share their experiences and advocate for their rights; and, finally, forums to reflect on their journeys for peace and change. The need for such interaction among peace practitioners and activists in various Muslim and Arab communities has been documented extensively in numerous publications by the Salam Institute, as well as during our annual conference, beginning in 2006, on Islamic peace and nonviolence.
As we renew our efforts to activate and engage the Muslim Peacebuilding Network, we invite you to learn more about the Salam Institute’s contribution to the field of peacebuiliding within and between Muslim and non-Muslim communities. We encourage you to join us in our efforts to build and foster lasting relationships among all peace workers in the Muslim world.
We look forward to further development with our network members. The Salam Institute relies on cooperation with our partner organizations and suggestions from the field to improve our work. Together, Muslim and non-Musim peacebuilders can work toward building the capacity of local initiatives to ensure that basic human rights are upheld throughout the world.