CAIRO – 4 November 2018: President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi opened his opening speech during the World Youth Forum opening session by promising Yazidi Nobel Peace Prize Winner Nadia Murad to make the very first recommendation for the forum that the world must acknowledge the crimes of the Islamic State.
“Nadia, Nadia, we will demand the entire world to admit the crimes committed by the Islamic State [IS]. We in Egypt rejected extremism. Thirty million protested to reject discrimination and fascism,” Sisi promised, in a message of hope to all victims. The 30-million person protest refers to the June 30 Revolution, where some 30 million took to the streets to topple formed President Mohamed Morsi from power.
Sisi’s message came in response to Murad’s moving speech at the beginning of the opening session, where she cited that IS forced half a million Yazidis to flee their homes in Iraq.
“There are wide divisions amongst our countries and amongst our peoples. In order to achieve peace, women have to receive their rights and the peoples of the regions should acknowledge each other’s differences in terms of religion and traditions,” Murad said.
“Without implanting the culture of tolerance and coexistence amongst the peoples of the region, we will not achieve peace. Without penalizing criminals, we will not achieve peace.”
“Terrorism and extremism are the source of evil in our region. More than 6,000 women and children were enslaved in 2014 and abused. They (Islamic state militants) destroyed our cities and looted all our possessions,” stated Murad.
“We know the effort done by Egyptian troops to fight terrorism. We, the youth, should work together to come closer to young people to save them from extremism, and enforce positive thinking.”
Murad, 25 years, is an Iraqi human rights activist who was held by the IS as a sex slave in 2014. Murad has received the 2018 Nobel Peace Prize jointly with Congolese gynaecologist Denis Mukwege.
During the first session titled, “The Role of World Leaders in Building and Sustaining Peace,” that took place on the second day of the World Youth Forum, Egyptian President Sisi delivered a speech, urging the world to be more tolerant and accept freedom of religion. He retouched on the points he spoke to Murad about.
Sisi also tackled the topic of discrimination—an issue that has long been at the forefront of the world’s conscience, and the freedom of expressing one’s religion, explaining that the state is looking to build worship building in new communities.
The government takes into account the need to build churches for new communities, Sisi explained, suggesting that individuals are welcome to practice any religion in Egypt and that the government will work to protect them.
“If there are other religions in Egypt, we will build worship places for them.”
“It’s the right of any citizen to worship God as he pleases, or even worship nothing because the state doesn’t intervene in these issues,” Sisi pointed. “We in Egypt do not differentiate between Muslims and Christians. All citizens are Egyptians.”
Sisi stressed that equality among all social segments is one of the main cornerstones of ensuring that there is civil peace and stability within any country.
The President went on to express the key role that women and the youth have in society.
As women play such a vital role in society, the Egyptian government have taken positive, active steps towards ensuring women are able to contribute safely to society and that women are empowered, Sisi said.
“The ability of the leaders to read the situation, whether regarding relations with other countries or within the state itself, differs from one leader to another according to the cultural, intellectual and scientific backgrounds as well as many other factors,” Sisi stating, explaining that it is the role of political leaders to ensure their country is safe and peaceful internally and externally. Sisi cited the actions of President Anwar El-Sadat during the peace process with Israel as an example of correctly reading a situation and acting in the best interest of citizens.
Turning to unemployment, an issue that Egypt has been doing well on during the past few years but that has left many countries baffled, Sisi wondered aloud whether developed countries are willing to give job opportunities to individuals from countries that suffer from high unemployment rates.
"Are these advanced nations that have only 3-4 % unemployment rate ready to help countries like Egypt and other African nations to set up projects that would really lower growing unemployment.”
For the second year, under the auspices of President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi, the tourist attraction city of Sharm el-Sheikh is bringing together youth of all nations at the second annual World Youth Forum (WYF) from November 3-6 to deliver a message of peace and prosperity from Egypt to the entire world. According to the official WYF website, the registration process for the forum has been closed after receiving applications from more than 122,000 youth of both sexes across the world.
The Seven Pillars of the Egyptian Identity
This year, the Forum events will revolve around a vision inspired by “The Seven Pillars of the Egyptian Identity”, a book by one of the most political intellectuals in Egypt Author Milad Hanna; who received several international awards including three “Egyptian Pride” awards from the assembly of foreign journalists and correspondents in Egypt in 1998, the “Order of the Polar Star” award from the king of Sweden, UNESCO’s “Simon Bolivar” award and the state appreciation prize in social sciences in 1999. In his book; Hanna emphasizes the unity and harmony of the Egyptian society despite differences. In keeping with this approach, all the forum events will be held in the light of those pillars that envision the communicative nature of the Egyptian society that has managed throughout the ages to be a linking point between different societies.
These pillars include; the Pharaonic pillar, the Greco-Roman pillar, the Coptic pillar, the Islamic pillar, the Arabic pillar, the Mediterranean pillar and the African pillar.
WYF’s themes and topics:
Building on the success of Egypt’s first international youth event in 2017, held under the theme “We Need to Talk”, this year the WYF is expected to witness the participation of approximately 5,000 young people from all over the world including international youth leadership figures, influential youth models in various fields, prominent international figures, youth groups from around the world and young Egyptian expats. During the international forum, these young people will explore and exchange views on key issues facing their generation and determine their role in shaping their future.
The WYF 2018 will concentrate on three main themes; peace, development and creativity; and will be held under the theme “We Need to Act”. The forum represents an opportunity for convening on youth development and engagement issues as well as discussing and reviewing progress in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), both by and for youth. Furthermore, the WYF aligns with the overarching theme of the Sustainable Development Strategy: Egypt Vision 2030 which focuses on three main themes; economy, environment and social dimension with special attention to specific segments of the society including youth, women and people with disabilities. Egypt vision 2030 is strongly guided by the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which will be thoroughly discussed during the forum.
According to the WYF’s agenda, the theme of peace will discuss sub-topics such as the role of world leaders in building and sustaining peace and water security in the wake of climate change (Day Zero), the future of humanitarian assistance, the Euro-Mediterranean co-operation and partnership, the role of soft power in countering ideological extremism and terrorism, and discussions on ways to rebuild societies and states in the context of post conflict. In 2017, the young participants discussed issues of terrorism, illegal migration, refugees, the impact of conflict on youth, sustainable development, the impact of technology on youth and the role of women in decision making processes.
While the African Agenda 2063 "the Africa we want", will be discussed under the theme of development in addition to other topics including; world energy, addressing the gender gap in labor market, the integration of persons with disabilities in development efforts, social responsibility and ways to invest in youth as future leaders. In 2017, the international forum reviewed major international experiences related to the rehabilitation and training of young people and the role of countries and societies in preparing future leaders.
The third theme “creativity” is expected to discuss opportunities in the artificial intelligence era, as well as entrepreneurs and innovative startup roles in economic growth. Under this theme; a map of the journey of startup pioneers from Egypt and around the world will shared, including challenges and successes so that others can follow and learn. In addition, the participants will learn about best-case practices and listen to inspirational figures discuss the startup dream. The WYF is also planned to witness the “World Youth Theater” by young talented youth from around the world featuring a variety of performances including musicals, plays, stand up comedies and inspirational talks in one of the most diverse youth events. In 2017, the participants discussed the role of cinema in facing terrorism and extremism as well as subjects related to arts and literature, cultural identity and ways to integrate and benefit from diversity to fix the damages of conflicts and wars.
In its first edition, the WYF witnessed a simulation of the United Nations Security Council. Following the recommendations resulting from WYF 2017, this year the second edition of WYF will simulate the regional Arab-African Summit. In two days; 67 young participants representing Arab and African states will be able to live the experience and formulate various solutions to several topics during the discussion including; the threats to global peace and security, and the challenges facing countries as a result of waves of irregular migration, and cyber wars and its threat to state security. The participants will also discuss ways to enhance cooperation between Arab and African youth.
The closing session of the WYF will witness voting and announcing relevant recommendations resulting from the discussions. In 2017, the international summit came out with the following recommendations; to establish an international center on Arab-African dialogue among youth in the world, to enhance the coordination with relevant bodies including the United Nations to adopt the outcomes of the Security Council simulation model conducted during the forum, to annually hold the WYF, to establish a center for cultural communication between Egyptian youth and the world in coordination with the relevant ministries, to establish an African Youth Center brining African youth together and benefiting from their innovative ideas, to put a plan for cultural exchange and provide scholarships for youth coordinated by the National Youth Academy for Training and Empowerment - established in Egypt in 2016, to develop a strategy to counter extremism, terrorism and illiteracy by the beginning of 2018, to activate mechanisms of acquaintance and dialogue among the youth around the world and to expand the financing of small and micro enterprises to support Egyptian youth willing to launch their own projects. During the forum in 2017, President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi also revealed that Egypt along with Arabic and European countries are all exerting efforts to add counterterrorism to the agenda of international human rights.
The idea of the WYF was originally proposed on April 25, 2017 by a group of young Egyptians from the Presidential Leadership Program (PLP) during the third National Youth Conference in Ismailia. The aim of these young Egyptians’ initiative was to engage in dialogue with their peer youth from around the world. President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi responded to the initiative on July 24, 2017 during the 4th National Youth Conference in Alexandria and launched the first World Youth Forum in 2017.