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Academic University for Non-violence and Human Rights for the Arab Region
an article by Phyllis Kotite

During the continuing national and regional tension, the summer session for the Academic University for Non-violence and Human Rights for the Arab region was attended by Arab specialists from 5 countries....Palestine, Lebanon, Syria, Iraq and Jordan...all countries experiencing an impact of the Arab spring.

click on photo to enlarge

An intensive three week course was highlighted by a rich discussion on relevant subjects: pioneers of non-violence and also 'désarmer les dieux', an analysis of the Old and New Testament and the Koran, and the misuse of religion for political objectives in history (Jean Marie Muller); origins of non-violence: community, sociological and psychological aspects (Ogarit Younan, co- founder of the University); human rights in general and specifics in the Arab region (Hussain Shaban); teaching non-violence in education (Antonella Verdiani); the prevention of conflict and peacebuilding, with group problem solving on alternatives actions to specific conflicts in their countries (Phyllis Kotite); and the psychology of human rights (Mona Charabati). Courses were given or translated into Arabic.

A special day was devoted to an innovative presentation on the evolution of art and non- violence or pacific activity of man with photos of cave drawings of the prehistoric period; and cuneiform and hieroglyphics from Sumer and Egypt, the earliest civilizations of history, illustrating peaceful activities as well as defensive action. Included was the realism of 20th century art, often depicting the horrors of conflict as a means of invoking a reaction in favour of peace, eg; Picasso's Guernica, (Elham Kallab). Co-founder Walid Slaybi spoke on "Why non-violence" and gave examples of civil disobedience and civil society activities of Gandhi and M. L. King. A Lebanese song writer, (Ahmed Kabbour) wrote a special piece for the occasion which was also presented in record form; and two Muslim religious figures, from Damascus and Nablus had on line live messages piped in from their countries.

Week-end activities included a visit to ancient Byblos, which experienced about 14 different occupations in its history; the Shouf mountains, and different sojourns to the capital Beirut. The participants consisted of representatives from various organizations: education, government bodies, media--tv and radio, civil rights and refugee institutions, women and youth organizations, cultural development, sustainable development, Red Crescent and health groups (psychology also).

AUNOHR offers higher degrees to specialists who attend summer courses and continue their work; during the year. The course will be on line (Isaam Mansour, vice-president). AUNOHR also has a Training Centre which has special advisory services, short term training or workshops for policy makers, civil society, parliamentarians, the media and enterprises.

Like the proverbial 'phoenix rising from the ashes', the embattered peoples of the Middle East are continuing their efforts at developing a culture of peace. AUNOHR, whose founders have 30 years of experience in training, peace education, mediation and civil rights, have established links throughout the world and welcome your interest and collaboration. or


Question(s) related to this article:

The Arab spring of 2011, Can it inspire democratic movements around the world?

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The following is reprinted from Common Ground News Service (CGNews), 30 August 2011,
Copyright permission is granted for publication.

Cultures of peace, lasting change in Egypt?
Joseph Mayton

Cairo - Instead of falling victim to Egypt’s eye-for-an-eye past, a concerted effort to create a culture of peace in what has quickly become a starkly fractured political scene – between religious groups, the military and activists, and activists and the people – may well be the best opportunity to bring about a new Egypt with social justice, transparency and tolerance.

Egyptians are striving daily to show the world that societies can change. Cairo is not the same city it was six months ago. As voices now begin to breech the political and social stalemate in the country, Egyptian society can, through a culture of peace, set a precedent not only for their own country but for the whole region.

UNESCO defines the culture of peace as “a set of values, attitudes, modes of behaviour and ways of life that reject violence and prevent conflicts by tackling their root causes to solve problems through dialogue”. In Egypt, for example, this could help develop an overall sense that the "other", who participated in violent acts in the past, can become part of society, instead of remaining on the outskirts as they are currently. Building such a culture in Egypt would follow the South African model of reconciliation, which allowed the country to look forward instead of focusing on the frustrating and sad past of apartheid.

Instilling a culture of peace in the younger generation could be a great antidote to the older generations’ mistrust and antagonism toward one another – Christian versus Muslim; Worker versus Owner; Military versus the People; and so on.

In Egypt, one of the root causes of a lack of a culture of peace is the educational system. Young Egyptian students are taught that they are different from one another, that their respective faiths are cause for separation. In schools, Christian students study the history and faith of Christianity separately, while Muslim studentsdo the same for Islam. This creates a sense that each group is separate and divided when it comes to any national cause. . ...more.

This report was posted on October 16, 2013.