The past week SwedAlex has had the privilege of working together with four organizations devoted to dialogue, peace building and confidence building. Intercultural Youth Dialogue Association , Swedish Fellowship of Reconcilliation , Swedish Muslims for Peace and Justice , and Hand in hand for Egypt. The five days’ long workshop Egyptian-Swedish Dialogue for Active Citizenship, has brought a group of 55 youth (Muslims, Christians and non-confessionals) together sharing their experiences, challenges and opportunities for building a society based on coexistence, tolerance and peace.

We were with you in spirit and heart when you were fighting for your freedom and dignity during the revolution. We have been dreaming about this moment and now we are finally here meeting with all you wonderful people, says Samaa Sarsour, youth leader from Swedish Muslims for Peace and Justice.

The energy that made itself presence during these days has had a great impact on all the participants. The workshop has been taking place during a stormy period in Egypt where there is a lot of confusion among the population regarding the upcoming elections. Clashes between the demonstrators and the security forces has once again entered Tahrir Square and all around the country. Suspicion and distrust is growing among the different groups in society, whether they are religiously or ideologically founded. In times like this, dialogue is crucial to overcome misunderstandings and build confidence. It has been clear that there is an enormous need for dialogue on a local as well as regional and inter-regional level.

Egyptian Swedish Dialogue for Active Citizenship

The workshop that started the 15th of November in Cairo and ended the 20th of November in Alexandria,  had sessions on Conflict Resolution and Confidence Building, Gender Equality, Interreligious Dialogue and the Civic Role for Peace as well as sharing lessons learned from civil action in Sweden and Egypt. The Egyptian revolution and the current political situation were also discussed. A key word during the workshop was humanity. “We have to build our societies on humanity and compassion, if we don’t we are lost”.

Despite the differences between Sweden and Egypt, the efforts and visions are very similar. The comparison between the Muslim minority in Sweden and the Christian minority in Egypt is not so far-fetched when experiences where shared.

For SwedAlex it is important to promote youth and create and maintain links between young Egyptians and Swedes and strengthen a regional trend towards grass-roots supported governance and an active civil society in Egypt. Youth in both countries have much to offer each other and it is important that Sweden supports peaceful civil initiatives to build a society based on active citizenship. The revolution is far from over. The power structures that existed during Mubarak’s regime is still very intact and it is important that the international community continues to support civil society and inter-regional initiatives for the values we share and seek to promote in our societies. The importance of dialogue between groups from our countries are not to be underestimated, we are fostering strong relationships for the future and capacity building for youth leaders. Building a democratic society based on universal values of human rights takes years and requires patience. In SwedAlex programmes we have a long term perspective and believe that the dialogues we are having today will create a greater understanding between our regions in the future.

An immediate result of the workshop was the discussions between Swedish and Egyptian youth on the need for launching Muslim and Christian peace movements in Egypt with an international approach like Swedish Muslims for Peace and Justice and Swedish Fellowship for Reconciliation.

Share your ideas for active citizenship here or continue the dialogue with Egyptian and Swedish youth on Facebook. Egyptian Swedish Dialogue for Active Citizenship