We had our first young leader live chat on March 1st, on the topic of social justice. With nine participants from eight countries, we had an informative and wide-ranging conversation about the different social justice initiatives some of URI’s young leaders are organizing and participating in, and sharing ideas about how we can each take action in our communities. For those who wanted to participate, but were unable to given technological difficulties, I am sharing below the transcript of the conversation. Our next live chat will be on Sunday, March 29th, on the topic of the ENVIRONMENT, at the same time: 14:00 GMT / UTC. Mark your calendars, now!!!
Sending prayers to you all for your wonderful work,
It is a pleasure to learn and grow alongside you,
Transcript from URI Young Leaders Live Chat on Social Justice:
March 1st, 2009 14:00 GMT
Participants: Naghmeh Arabzadeh from the Iran Youth for Peace & Interreligious Dialogue (Iran), Ciro Gabriel Avruj from Misiones Unidas CC and Humanity’s Team (Argentina), Kiran Bali from Faith 2 Faith CC (UK), Olivia Damm from the People for Peace CC (writing from Scotland), Atif Jamil from Toba Tek Singh CC (Pakistan), A.O. Obada from the Middle East Youth Network CC (UAE), Sam Ruben from Interfaith Millennium Development Goals Coalition and the URI global hub in San Francisco, (USA), Sarah Talcott from the Global Youth CC and URI global hub, San Francisco (USA), Augusto Zimbres from MIR CC (Brazil),
Regrets: Tobias Wiah from Liberia, Jagannath Kandel from Nepal, Sarah Queblatin from Philippines, Rodolfo Rey Blanco from Argentina, Matthew Youde from Wales, UK
After introductions and greetings, Kiran (who moderated the discussion) had us begin the chat by sharing our definitions of social justice. The main ideas shared and consensus reached were: assurance of human dignity, rights and equity for all, without discrimination based on gender, caste, creed, ethnicity, religious group, etc. and equality for all humans with an emphasis on equal values for all…
The transcript of our conversation begins from there:
[06:07] Kiran: Wonderful, now lets elaborate. I would like to ask Atif t start off with details about the
Rally and Seminar against “burning the girls schools in Swat.
[06:08] Kiran: How you supported the cause and the impact that has been made
[06:09] Kiran: Why the schools are being burnt etc
[06:09] Atif_Pakistan: it was a dialogue around the needs of the people of all religions
[06:10] Atif_Pakistan: The prevalent situation in the Northern parts of Pakistan has challenged the theme of peace and social harmony
[06:11] Atif_Pakistan: there are certian militant groups who are striving for gaining power
[06:11] Atif_Pakistan: they use the media like FM radio to implement their orders etc.
[06:12] Kiran: Must be quite scary for the local people?
[06:12] Atif_Pakistan: The groups have taken over the vast areas and they have started introducing the laws which according to them are Islamic
[06:12] guest9129564: hello, everyone !it's olivia, I'm just rying to read what you'have been saying so far...
[06:13] Meebo Message: guest9129564 is now known as Olivia in Edinburgh
[06:13] A.O.: Hello Olivia!
[06:13] Atif_Pakistan: burning the girls schools is one such act which they say is according to Islam
[06:13] Olivia in Edinburgh: Hi ! how are you?
[06:13] Kiran: Welcome Olivia, Atif is talking about a dialogue he is involved in
[06:13] Olivia in Edinburgh: ok, thank you
[06:14] Kiran: Atif, so how man schools have been burned?
[06:14] Kiran: many
[06:14] Atif_Pakistan: they say that the girls when go out to attend the schools, every body can see them and education for girls is not necssary
[06:15] Atif_Pakistan: They started ordering people not to send their girls to schools, when people refused they burned more than 150 girls schools in SWAT valley
[06:15] Kiran: What were some of the outcomes of the dialogue you particicpated in and how will people tackle these issues?
[06:15] Olivia in Edinburgh: may I ask, who is 'they'?
[06:15] Atif_Pakistan: the schools are closed in winter season in this area and when the schools were closed they were burnt by the Taliban
[06:15] Atif_Pakistan: they are Taliban
[06:16] Atif_Pakistan: the dialgoue, as I told, was started around the economic needs of the people, because these are common problems of people from all the religions and when we started people started taking interest
[06:17] Sarah from California: also, was it an interfaith group that responded?
[06:17] Atif_Pakistan: we started small activities like provision of seeds to the farmers by forming cooperative societies and groups
[06:17] Atif_Pakistan: yes it is interfaith group and people belong to Muslim and Christian religion
[06:18] Olivia in Edinburgh: how exactly do they use Islam to justify the burning of schools? What are there arguments?
[06:18] Meebo Message: guest2757627 is now known as naghmeh
[06:18] Atif_Pakistan: when people gather together in the economic activities we would also talk on the interfaith and peace situation
[06:18] Sarah from California: welcome, naghmeh!
[06:18] naghmeh: Hi thank you sorry I am late
[06:18] A.O.: Salam Naghmeh!
[06:19] naghmeh: salam dear A.O.
[06:19] Atif_Pakistan: There is no need to give the arguments for them, they have weapons to enforce
[06:19] Kiran: nagmeh , Atif is telling us about his dialogue process
[06:19] Sarah from California: do the majority of the people there realize that it is not "Islam" they are preaching?
[06:20] Sarah from California: or is it also necessary to address the misconceptions with the Christian people, etc.?
[06:20] Atif_Pakistan: our first rally was attended by more than 100 people from civil society groups, lawyers, youth, farmers and journalists
[06:20] Sarah from California: wow... this is such brave and courageous work you are doign! bravo!
[06:21] Kiran: Yes keep it up, such a good cause
[06:21] Atif_Pakistan: majority of the people, frankly speaking, do not oppose them
[06:21] Atif_Pakistan: it is difficult to convince people especially when it comes to religion
[06:22] A.O.: but I think that's more of a traditional issue that's masked behind religion..do you agree Atif?
[06:22] Atif_Pakistan: after our first rally, we announced a women workers convention with a rally on the issue of burning the schools in SWAT
[06:22] Atif_Pakistan: yes I agree with an addition that they are power hungry people who are using religion for their vested interests
[06:23] A.O.: because according to Islam Education is compulsory for both men and women,so they can't convince people not to send their daughters to school based on false religious allegations
[06:23] Sam from California: what are your thoughts on the softening of the Taliban position on education in the region following the protests across the country?
[06:23] Sarah from California: i woudl think, by having muslims in your group organizing the rallies, etc., this would go a long way to addressing the misconceptions about islam
[06:23] Atif_Pakistan: the district administration did not allow us for the rally
[06:23] Atif_Pakistan: yes you are right Sarah
[06:23] Atif_Pakistan: its dialogue and interaction that addresses the issue of misconception
[06:24] Kiran: Any more questions for Atif?
[06:25] Atif_Pakistan: now the provincial government of that area has made a contract with Taliban and the Taliban has announced cease fire and brining the situatiomn to normal position in the area
[06:25] Sarah from California: wow... this is an amazing result! i am sure it is happening as a result of your efforts at least in part!
[06:26] Atif_Pakistan: you can say that we beleive that every single step brings results
[06:26] Kiran: Yes and It will be great if you keep us posted on developments. . Is it ok if we move on...
[06:26] Kiran: Anymore comments for Atif?
[06:27] Atif_Pakistan: yes sure and thank you very much for giving me this opportunity
[06:27] Atif_Pakistan: just one small comment
[06:27] Sam from California: thank you for sharing with us, it's truly inspiring work you are doing
[06:27] Atif_Pakistan: the contract with the Taliban is very unclear and we beleive that any undemocratic contract will result in the worst
[06:27] Atif_Pakistan: thank you and over end all
[06:28] A.O.: thank you Atif..wishing you all the best!
[06:28] Atif_Pakistan: thank you A.O.
[06:28] Kiran: Thanks Atif, keep it up.....Let us now invite Sam to talk about the work he is doing.
[06:28] Kiran: Over to you Sam
[06:29] Sam from California: Thank you for the opportunity to share
[06:29] Sam from California: for the past year I have been representing URI as part of the Interfaith Millennium Development Goals (MDG) Coalition
[06:29] Olivia in Edinburgh: thank you Atif, unfortunately I missed the beginning of this chat, but what i heared was really interesting and I think you and your work is an inspiration for us all....all the best!
[06:30] Atif_Pakistan: thank you Olivia
[06:30] naghmeh: thanks atif. I hope all the best for you
[06:31] Atif_Pakistan: thank you Naghmeh
[06:32] Sarah from California: what are the goals of the coalition Sam?
[06:32] Sam from California: the Coalition is a Bay Area group bringing together faith communities, interfaith organizations, and social change groups to find ways to educate the public and legislators about the MDGs
[06:32] Sam from California: and to push the United States government to live up to its commitments, with particular focus on achieving official developmental aid as .7% of gross national income, it is currently .16%
[06:32] Sam from California: sorry, I seem to be running into the length parameters of the chat
[06:32] Sam from California: it gave me errors when I tried to type that all as one
[06:33] Kiran: Don't worry,take your time
[06:33] Sam from California: to achieve our goals of the US meeting its obligations we have been operating in a couple different directions
[06:33] Sam from California: one of the main ones has been organizing monthly meetings bringing together community members to learn about the MDGs and what they can do to influence their achievement
[06:35] Sam from California: as a part of this aspect we have been meeting with local legislators and their staffs to speak with them about the importance of achieving the MDGs and how its necessary for the US to take a lead in this if they are to be achieved globally
[06:35] Sarah from California: maybe you can share some ideas with the rest of us... how we can all help to influece their achievenment in our different places.
[06:35] Atif_Pakistan: yes that will help
[06:35] Kiran: How can we contribute to the process ?
[06:36] Sam from California: we've found that one of the most important areas is educating those that are in a position to influence foreign policy
[06:36] A.O.: Sam,may I ask what are the main obstacles you face in your Coalition in order to achieve your goals?
[06:37] Sam from California: along with the deterioration of the economy, which has focused many people inward economically, one of the biggest issues is teaching people about the MDGs and what the current situation is in much of the developing world
[06:38] Sam from California: to address this we are organizing our 2nd annual religious leaders' luncheon to educate religious leaders on the conditions that have created the need for the MDGs and information to take back to their communities to teach them
[06:39] Sam from California: direct action to reach out to the political leaders of a community is one of the best ways we have found
[06:39] Sarah from California: awesome.. religious leaders can be such a force for positive change in mobilizing theri faith communities. so many of the social justice movements have come out of faith communities
[06:40] Kiran: great, any more questions for Sam ?
[06:40] Sam from California: there are different pieces of legislation before the US Congress, such as the Global Poverty Act, the Global Marshall Plan Resolution, and the GROWTH Act (deals with promoting equality of women in the developing world)
[06:40] Sam from California: which we have focused on when meeting with legislators
[06:40] Sarah from California: maybe you could share some of the literature from your group with the rest of us by email? we could use it as a model...
[06:40] Sam from California: I would be happy to
[06:41] naghmeh: yes that is a great idea sarah
[06:41] Sam from California: while a very basic site at the moment (we don't really have a budget or webdesigner), you can visit
[06:41] Kiran: That is really helpful Sam, Any more comments/questions.
[06:42] Sam from California: also, for those interested in seeing where things stand with regard to achieving the MDGs, I recommend
[06:43] Sarah from California: maybe a question for both atif and sam: what kind of groundwork did you all need to lay, in order to build a strong cohesive bond as an interfaith group?
[06:43] A.O.: Thank you Sam for sharing your views..If there's anything that we can do in our parts of the world to help with the Coalition's goals..please let us know!
[06:44] Sam from California: ours developed over a couple of years, it started as a conference held by the local Catholic community, then the Episcopals joined the next year
[06:44] Sam from California: and then over the last year the luncheon brought us on board along with a number of other community/interfaith groups/other faith communities
[06:44] Sam from California: glad to have the opportunity A.O.
[06:45] Atif_Pakistan: please explain the question
[06:45] Kiran: Is that Sarah's question?
[06:45] Atif_Pakistan: yes
[06:46] Kiran: please elaborate Sarah
[06:46] Sarah from California: i mean... what did you have to do to bring people together and build understanding amongst the group members, to begin with, before you could take action
[06:47] Sarah from California: is that more clear?
[06:47] Atif_Pakistan: our first phase was to gain confidance of the people around us and then we started with the real needs of the people
[06:48] Atif_Pakistan: our first action was not directly talking on interfaith but to gather people together on the needs they have in their routine life
[06:48] Sam from California: I agree
[06:49] Sarah from California: that makes sense... thank you!
[06:49] Sam from California: it was important to address the common desire/need to address the issues that are negatively impacting communities that is shared amongst the faith groups, rather than issues of faith themselves
[06:50] Kiran: Thanks for that both Sam and Atif....let's move on to Olivia
[06:50] gab: excuse me family, i have to leave you for now. thank you very much for sharing. we keep in touch
[06:50] Sam from California: have a great day!
[06:50] Kiran: Please speak about what you have been organizing at university in solidarity with people of Gaza
[06:50] A.O.: Good-Bye Gabriel!
[06:50] gab: i love you all
[06:50] Atif_Pakistan: we love you too Gabriel
[06:50] Sarah from California: bye gabriel! thank you for joining us!
[06:51] Kiran: Thanks Grabriel
[06:51] gab: thanks
[06:51] Olivia in Edinburgh: bye!
[06:51] Kiran: Over to Olivia
[06:51] Sarah from California: is it okay with others if i share the transcript of the conversation with the young leaders / uri-globalyouth lists?
[06:51] Olivia in Edinburgh: sure
[06:52] gab: has left the room
[06:52] Olivia in Edinburgh: about thirty students in my university organised a peaceful 'sit-in' about a week ago
[06:52] Olivia in Edinburgh: we occupied one of our lecture theatres
[06:53] Olivia in Edinburgh: the reson was the escalation of the situation in Gaza
[06:53] Olivia in Edinburgh: we made several demnads to our university
[06:54] Olivia in Edinburgh: such as divesting fromarms a nd defence manifacturersr
[06:54] Olivia in Edinburgh: sorry I have a problem with my keyboard...
[06:55] Olivia in Edinburgh: it doesn't write as fast as I type
[06:55] Olivia in Edinburgh: ....
[06:55] Sarah from California: have you gotten a response from your university?
[06:55] Kiran: No problem Olivia
[06:57] Olivia in Edinburgh: yes, they have refused to divest from these companies, because of money issues, basically they say that it would be illegal to cancel the contracts they have with them and they need the funds..
[06:58] Olivia in Edinburgh: we also asked the university to suspend all relations with other companies enabling the confllict such as Eden Springs which uses the water of the illegaly occupied Golan Heights
[06:58] Olivia in Edinburgh: the response was...
[06:59] Atif_Pakistan: did any of the companies take notice of this, Did they contact you or threatened you etc
[06:59] Olivia in Edinburgh: that the only company that can provide them with bottled water is a company that gets its water from Eden Springs...
[06:59] Olivia in Edinburgh: No
[07:00] Olivia in Edinburgh: the response of fellow students was also not easy to deal with...
[07:00] Kiran: You have done some great work....any comments/questions from others?
[07:01] A.O.: did you face any opposition/attacks (physical or verbal) from other students who didn't agree with your efforts?
[07:01] Olivia in Edinburgh: some of them called us Hippies, we were disrupting their education which was not true, because we didn't interupt lectures at all
[07:01] Atif_Pakistan: I want to ask Olivia one thing, when you talked to your fellow students about the "sit in". what was the respone and can you share the process you followed to reach the sit in
[07:01] Olivia in Edinburgh: some suggested the university
[07:02] Olivia in Edinburgh: should impose academic sanctions on us
[07:02] Olivia in Edinburgh: ridiculous
[07:02] Olivia in Edinburgh: anyway as
[07:02] Olivia in Edinburgh: sure
[07:03] Kiran: more comments for Olivia ?
[07:03] Sarah from California: also... what was the composition of your group?
[07:03] Olivia in Edinburgh: the palestinian solidarity society of out university organised a meeting we had a sicussion on the idea of a sit in
[07:04] Olivia in Edinburgh: and then we agreed by consensus to do the sit in the next day so
07:03] Olivia in Edinburgh: the palestinian solidarity society of out university organised a meeting we had a sicussion on the idea of a sit in
[07:04] Olivia in Edinburgh: and then we agreed by consensus to do the sit in the next day so
[07:04] Olivia in Edinburgh: we all stayed up all night to organise it
[07:05] Olivia in Edinburgh: we had a grass roots level movements trainer, she also worked for an organisation called legal support and she helped us a lot
[07:05] Olivia in Edinburgh: she told us about our rights how to have an organised discussion ..etc
[07:05] Kiran: Wonderful.
[07:06] Atif_Pakistan: Great Olivia
[07:06] A.O.: has left the room
[07:06] Olivia in Edinburgh: we had people from differnet relligions, there were Christians , muslims and also non-religious people
[07:06] Sarah from California: did you have students from different countries, backgrounds participating? i am interested about who belongs to the palestinian solidarity group
[07:07] Sarah from California: cool, thanks! sounds wonderful and inspired and courageous!
[07:07] Olivia in Edinburgh: we also had people from other countries outside the UK
[07:07] Sarah from California: what is your next step as a group?
[07:07] Olivia in Edinburgh: not all of the people who participated belong to the society though...
[07:08] Sam from California: Out of curiosity, were you able to bring in any portions of the Jewish community?
[07:08] Olivia in Edinburgh: now, it's going to be challenging for us, during the sit-in our demands were clear and we were all together, but it's important to keep going
[07:09] Olivia in Edinburgh: we want to organise informative lectures
[07:09] Olivia in Edinburgh: about the conflict , inviting Israeli as well as Palestinian speakers..
07:09] Olivia in Edinburgh: the university has agreed to fund these lectures
[07:10] Sarah from California: congratulations!
[07:10] Sarah from California: that is a wonderful result!
[07:10] Atif_Pakistan: great this is a success and recognition of your struggle in a way
[07:11] naghmeh: thanks olivia for sharing your wondwrful experience with us.
[07:11] Olivia in Edinburgh: no, not at all the ones we know think it's horrible what is happening to the Palestinians but they don't want to take a stand against their country's actions..
[07:11] Kiran: yes, please keep us posted with developments
[07:11] Sarah from California: yes please keep us posted.
[07:11] Olivia in Edinburgh: sure...thanks for listening..
[07:11] Sam from California: thanks for sharing
[07:11] Sarah from California: thanks for taking such a courageous stand! we all support you!
[07:11] Kiran: Would anybody else liek to contribute to the chat, bearing in mind their time constraints?
[07:11] Atif_Pakistan: it was great learning for me
[07:12] Olivia in Edinburgh: for me too!
[07:12] A.O.: Thank you very much Olivia for keeping us updated about your efforts and standing up for what you believe
[07:12] A.O.: and thanks for Sam and Atif too!
[07:12] Sarah from California: yes i learned a great deal from you all... it is inspiring to get together and share like this!
[07:12] Kiran: Sarah would you like to contribute anything?
[07:12] Olivia in Edinburgh: just one thing
[07:12] BK Augusto Brazil: I would like to thank you all and congratulate Atif, Sam and Olivia, whom I learned so much with.
[07:13] Sarah from California: i just wanted to ask and see if you all would give your permission to me sending around the transcript of this conversation with the other youth
[07:13] Olivia in Edinburgh: I am really proud of 'scotland' actuallly
[07:13] Sam from California: you have my permission
[07:13] Atif_Pakistan: yes its a wonderful idea to get together in chat and share
[07:13] Olivia in Edinburgh: a lot of the MSPs (Scotish parliament
[07:13] Atif_Pakistan: sahring of experiences opens new avenues of action
[07:14] Olivia in Edinburgh: have taken a deep interest in the suffering and injustices that are being done to Palestinians
[07:14] Olivia in Edinburgh: they have listened to several Palestinian students and have shared great sympathy with them...
[07:15] Sarah from California: that is wonderful news... it makes such a difference to find ways and avenues to share the voices of others, especially those who are often silenced
[07:15] Atif_Pakistan: Yes Sarah you can share this with others
[07:15] Sarah from California: we had a wonderful speaker visit the other day - a bahranian human rights activist - she has started several campaigns through her website
[07:15] Kiran: If participants have found this useful, we can schedule further chats
[07:16] Sarah from California: olivia - maybe there is a way for your group to connect in with her, and voice your ideas and comments through this website
[07:16] Atif_Pakistan: yes sure
[07:16] Sarah from California: it gets 3,000 - 5,000 hits a day
[07:16] Sarah from California: the next chat would be on the issue of the ENVIRONMENT and how we can better care for it
[07:17] naghmeh: that is great to chat with all of you. I learn more. I am so sorry but I shold go. I hope to see all of you again.
[07:17] Atif_Pakistan: good I know very little about this issue and would like to learn
[07:17] Olivia in Edinburgh: yes that's a good idea1q
[07:17] Sarah from California: thanks very much naghmeh! wonderful to have you with us!
[07:17] A.O.: Sarah, can you kindly share her website with me too? Maybe we can connect with her through our CC..Middle East Youth Network
[07:17] Kiran: Thanks Naghmeh
[07:17] naghmeh: yes good subject. thanks
[07:17] Sarah from California: yes it's
[07:17] Sarah from California: great idea!
[07:17] A.O.: Bye Naghmeh..have a great day!
[07:17] naghmeh: bye dear
[07:18] A.O.: thank you very much Sarah
[07:18] Kiran: I am conscious of time, are we in a position to conclude shortly
[07:18] naghmeh: has left the room
[07:18] Sarah from California: yes i think so...
[07:18] Olivia in Edinburgh: BYE
[07:18] Sarah from California: love to you all!
[07:18] Kiran: We can email some information around before the next chat
[07:18] Sarah from California: take care and be CAREFUL in your work
[07:19] Sarah from California: we need you!
[07:19] Kiran: Thanks and best wishes to you all, hope you found it useful
[07:19] Sarah from California: very much so... thank you Kiran for moderating!!! you are fabulous as always!
[07:19] Kiran: keep up the good work
[07:19] A.O.: Thank you everybody who contributed towards today's chat!
[07:19] Sam from California: great first chat!
[07:19] A.O.: So good to hear from you all
[07:19] Kiran: Can't help it
[07:19] A.O.: So good to hear from you all
[07:19] Kiran: Can't help it
[07:20] Kiran: Keep in touch all
[07:20] Atif_Pakistan: i look forward for more chats
[07:20] Sarah from California:
[07:20] Sarah from California: me too
[07:20] Olivia in Edinburgh: me too! thanks everyone!
07:20] Olivia in Edinburgh: I'm happy that we manage to stay connected in this way..
[07:20] Kiran: Thanks again, have a great week ahead
[07:20] Atif_Pakistan: thank you Sam and Olivia
[07:20] A.O.: thanks for your insight from Scotland,Olivia
[07:20] Atif_Pakistan: thank you Kiran
[07:21] BK Augusto Brazil: Thanks for this beautiful opportunity for learning and inspiring actions for a better world.
[07:21] Sarah from California: blessings to all! take care...
07:21] Kiran: Everybody 's contribution is valuable thanks
[07:21] Sam from California: thank you Olivia and Atif for sharing your great work with us
[07:21] Atif_Pakistan: thank you Sarah for introducing me this chat
[07:21] Sarah from California: my pleasure... glad we were able to bring in people in many diffrent parts of the world!
[07:22] Kiran: keep connecting...
[07:22] A.O.: thanks for modertaing the chat Kiran!
[07:22] Atif_Pakistan: ok Bye to all
[07:22] Olivia in Edinburgh: yes! good luck with the wonderful work you are doing...
[07:22] Olivia in Edinburgh: bye!
[07:22] Kiran: Thanks for having me!!
[07:23] BK Augusto Brazil: All the best and good week for all.
[07:23] Sarah from California: bye to all!
07:23] Olivia in Edinburgh: All the best!
[07:23] Olivia in Edinburgh: has left the room
[07:24] A.O.: Good-bye everybody..enjoy the week and hopefully see you during our next chat
[07:25] Atif_Pakistan: has left the room
[07:25] Kiran: byeee