Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Interview with Hooria Mashoor, Vice-Chairperson of the Women’s National Committee of Yemen

Fahmia al-Fotih', the Coordinator of SAVE Yemen, recently conducted an online interview with Hooria Mashoor, the Vice-Chairperson of the Women's National Committee in Yemen. The Women's National Committe was created by the Prime Minister in 1996 and is charged with highlighting women's issues in Yemen. In 2000, the Supreme Council for Women's Affairs was created, and the Women's National Committee is now a subsidiary of that institution. Hooria Mashoor is a prominent spokeswoman on behalf of the organization, and more information and links to her work in Yemen can be found below.

How are violent extremism and terrorism currently affecting your life?

Violent extremist and terrorism are only indirectly affecting my life. The effects on the average Yemeni are probably most felt in terms of the challenges they pose for economic development. For example, tourist numbers have decreased, destroying the country’s relation with some countries and international agencies who are considered the main supporters. It also restricts our movement. Also, we are concerned about changing the agenda of foreign agencies, who currently list security and terrorism as the first priority and leave gender at the bottom of their concerns.

Is there a real threat from terrorists on the ground?

Not really. In my personal opinion, it is a political issue. Sometimes it comes to the surface of the politicians’ agendas, and at other times it disappears.

Military attacks will have no success at all because their targets are believers. They are everywhere in the houses, mosques, clubs, in the work places, in the streets—how can they be targeted? The key factors for change are education and eliminating poverty among the youth who have nothing to do except become terrorists or, I would rather say, extremists because I do not fully agree with the concept. It has been misused by Bush and Blair and the other Western leaders.

Monday, February 22, 2010

"Edit Schlaffer: Great Accomplishments in Small Steps" by Isabella Lechner

In the past week, Edit and SAVE have been the subject of several major interviews and features in Austrian newspapers, including the following piece, which was published in Die Standard. Die Standard is a section of Der Standard, a highly-regarded daily newspaper published in Vienna, that focuses primarily on women's issues and themes. It is a great honor for Edit and SAVE to receive such positive coverage!

To see the original publication in German, you can go to this link: http://diestandard.at/1266279037850/Edit-Schlaffer-Grosse-Leistung-in-kleinen-Schritten. Our translation follows below!

Edit Schlaffer: Great Accomplishments in Small Steps
By Isabella Lechner, 18 February 2010
The social scientist was selected as one of the “21 Leaders for the 21st Century” for her counterterror platform SAVE – Sisters Against Violent Extremism.
“I don’t believe in the good in the world, but I believe that we can tame the bad,” says Edit Schlaffer, the chairwoman of Women without Borders. Women’s eNews, the leading US news agency, has selected the committed social scientist as one of the “21 Leaders for the 21st Century.”
“I am very excited to have been chosen-the recognition of SAVE Global serves to encourage all the women who are involved; I am only the symbolic figurehead,” said the “leading lady” during a discussion with dieStandard.at. Schlaffer is the first Austrian to receive the award; Sheikha Lubna, the UAE Minister for Economics and Planning, and the philanthropist Esther Hewlett have received the award in the past.
Women who advocate for improvements in women’s lives around the world are honored as “Leaders for the 21st Century.” Edit Schlaffer and the SAVE women attempt to do so on a daily basis through their personal fight for increased security: “We are trying to fight terrorism where it begins: at its base,” Schlaffer explains. “Women are the architects of a peaceful and equal world; they have good sensors for finding alternatives to violence and for developing a new culture of dialogue and social interaction.”

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Indonesian Students Declare "SAVE Indonesia!"

One hundred students from fifty Javanese high schools, universities, and pesantren (Islamic boarding schools) came together in late December 2009 to declare the birth of SAVE Indonesia (Students Against Violence and Extremism). The students drafted a 10-point declaration, resolving to respect every difference, refuse discriminatory behaviour, speak out against violence and promote the spirit of sisterhood in Indonesia. The declaration was the culmination of two Indonesian Students’ Youth Peace Camps 2009 held in Tawangmangu and Lembang, in central and west Java. The camps were organized by the Center for Pesantren and Democracy Studies (CePDeS) Jakarta in cooperation with local organizations in Solo and Bandung, with the support of Initiatives of Change (IofC) Indonesia.

Lily Zakiyah Munir, Director of CePDeS and SAVE Member, emphasized that the “activities were initiated because of deep concerns [about the] violence which has emerged using religious doctrines and dogmas mainly targeted [at] youth. We hope these camps will give birth to a new generation of Indonesian youth who will internalize the values of love and peace, and appreciation of diversity.” Each camp lasted for four days, during which the participants reflected on acceptance of self, belief in diversity and ability to lead.

Declaration of Indonesian Students on Peace in 2009:
  1. I, the Indonesian young generation, highly respect every difference that should be safeguarded and respected in our daily lives;
  2. I will cast away from any discriminatory attitudes and behaviours disadvantaging other individuals or groups;
  3. I will prevent any kind of acts of violence and extremism;
  4. I refuse any forms of violence and extremism on whatever grounds;
  5. I am prepared and committed to become a peace activist and to be part of an international peace network that continually seeks to end all forms of violence and extremism;
  6. I fully support all positive actions of the Indonesian young generation in performing peace activities;
  7. I am prepared to become pioneer of peace movement and form the SAVE Indonesia Network developed by Indonesian students and santris;
  8. I will involve the government, students’ organizations and the society to play an active role in safeguarding Indonesia’s young generation from all forms of violence and extremism;
  9. I will uplift the spirit of sisterhood, mutual respect and peace in guarding Indonesia’s harmony and diversity;
  10. I will speak out against all forms of discrimination and violence by anybody through various media. 

    Monday, February 15, 2010

    Indian Student, Poem on Peace

    “You came to show us your movie based on 26/11 terrorism, so I just wanted to give a poem on peace.”

    —Alyka Haider, Delhi Public School, Jankipuram

         Peace Before Tomorrow

         The world today is full of conflicts
         Peace should come before tomorrow
         People dying human suffering
         Peace should be nailed inside your heart
         Killing and fighting doesn't make today better
         It makes life harder tomorrow
         Blood flowing like a river
         Rotten flesh as high as mountains
         Every hour just another pile
         Peace should not end by a war
         Peace should end by laying down your weapons
         Peace today could make guns into flowers
         Cannons into fireworks
         Peace is what should be done immediately
         It is always too late to wait until tomorrow
         Because hundreds die tonight
         Peace is easy for you and me
         And all it takes is to change your mind
         Your world could change before tomorrow
         And it could be right now

    You can see "Surviving Terror" (the video that Alyka is responding to) here. This SAVE film is an 8-minute feature dedicated to the victims and survivers of the terror attacks in Mumbai in November 2008.

    Friday, February 5, 2010

    The Roles and Capabilities of Yemeni Women Against Violent Extremism: A Report From a SAVE Yemen Workshop

    On January 21st, 2010, Women Without Borders/SAVE Yemen held a workshop on women’s role in challenging violent extremism in collaboration with Women Journalists Without Chains (WJWC). Fahmia Al-Fotih, SAVE Yemen coordinator, presented Journey Through Darkness, a SAVE-produced documentary about three women affected by terrorism, to start discussion about what Yemeni women can do to prevent the spread of terrorism in their own lives.

    During the discussion, the group noted that the capacity of women to spot and react to extremism in their families ranges greatly based on levels of education, local awareness, and geographic remoteness. Mothers, especially those with less formal education, struggle to recognize the warning signs. In general, they perceive their children as merely becoming more religious and often consider the change to be positive. Mothers with less formal education often realize too late when their family members are involved with extremist thought or actions. Female illiteracy and radical thinking, they said, often go hand in hand.

    Monday, February 1, 2010

    A Letter from Tawakkol Karman, Chairwoman, Women Journalists Without Chains

    SAVE Yemen’s second chapter meeting was held in conjunction with Women Journalists Without Chains, and we have high hopes that this partnership will continue to result in productive discussions and actions against violent extremism in Yemen. Tawakkol Karman, the Chairwoman of Women Journalists Without Chains, wrote us the following letter expressing her views about the future of our partnership and her hopes that together we can start to create a new culture of tolerance and acceptance in Yemen.

    Dear Dr. Edit,

    I am very glad to cooperate with Women without Borders. You are a very crucial partner for us in Women Journalists Without Chains, not because of the slight similarity of the name of the two organizations but because we have many things in common and we very much agree on objectives and concepts, especially those related to challenging terrorism and extremism. We agree also on our vision of how to deal with the issues of extremism and terrorism. I have come to that conclusion after meeting Fahmia, your wonderful coordinator here in Yemen, listening to her explanation of the mission of Women without Borders and her talks about your personality, strength, and influence.

    Terrorism and extremism are issues that our organization had touched upon before the world started to talk about al-Qaeda and its increasing presence in Yemen. We see that extremism is not only carrying weapons, but it is rejecting and marginalizing the ‘other.’ Consequently, it pushes the ‘other’ to resort to violent recourses to defend his point of view or to prove his existence. Using weapons, bombings, and other terrorist acts is a result of a big accumulative process that has started with disrespecting and marginalizing the ‘other’ combined with hostile attitudes towards him. This process usually starts in early age. That means that extremism is a result of a failure in raising our children, a failure in culture and the absence of belief in the value of dialogue and coexistence.

    Flash Points: Edit Schlaffer presents SAVE on CBS