Muslim summer camp brings youth together against extremism
About 500 Muslim young people from all over Europe will gather in Sarpsborg in August for a summer camp building strategies against extremism.
It’s no coincidence that Østfold was chosen to host the camp, organized by the Muslim youth community, Minhaj-ul-Quran’s Norwegian Youth Organization, said leader, Awais Ejaz Ahmed.
From the same street in Fredrikstad, over a period of time, a number of young men travelled to Syria to go to what is proving a disastrous and destructive war, where Muslims are suffering worse than anybody else.
‘We will send a signal that we Muslims ourselves are actively working to prevent extremism among Muslims,’ said Ahmed to NTB news agency.
A similar event has already been organized in England, but this is the first major European youth camp the movement has put together.
Participants are mainly between 16 and 35 years of age, and many are already leaders in local organizations. Approximately 200 come from Norway.
Large delegations will also attend from Denmark and Sweden, as well as participants from eight other countries. At the camp, which will be held on the first weekend of August, participants can attend a variety of workshops on important social issues, and also spiritual gatherings, said Awais Ejaz Ahmed.
‘We want to equip participants with tools in a continuing fight against extremism and radicalization,’ he said.
Faith, peace, and integration
The founder of the international movement is the Canadian-Pakistani theologian and politician, Muhammad Tahir-ul-Qadri. He became internationally famous for presenting a ‘Fatwa Against Suicide Bombing and Terrorism.’
‘He is constantly working on building positions of consciousness among young people. The message is about peace, love, raising knowledge, having a strong attachment to one’s own faith, and integrating into the society of people in which you live,’ said Ahmed.
He said the movement sees themselves as moderate Muslims, who uphold the basic principles of Islam, while adapting to present circumstances.
For the opening day, several parliamentarians have been invited, among them Abid Raja.
‘If we are to succeed in the fight against extremism, it is extremely important that the effort is made from within. The fact that Muslim young people in mosques and other arenas are actively facilitating such a conference is something I strongly applaud’, said Raja to NTB news agency.
Pakistan’s ambassador to Norway, Riffat Masood, county councillors from Akershus and Østfold, several researchers on extremism and terrorism, and representatives from the The Norwegian Police Security Service (PST) will be present on the opening day of the youth camp.
© NTB Scanpix / Norway Today