One Young World – Esra’a Al Shafei

My name is Esra’a Al Shafei and I’m a 23 year old digital activist from Bahrain. In the next few weeks, I hope to contirbute my opinions on One Young World on WHYS. Needless to say I am very excited about this opportunity.

So here’s a little about me: Moved as a young child by the disrespectful and inhumane treatment of immigrant workers that I witnessed, I kept in my heart a deep sense of outrage and injustice. I was increasingly frustrated in my early college years by the one-dimensional portrayal throughout media of Middle Eastern youth – a portrayal virtually unanswered because of censorship and state control of media in the region. I took to my keyboard to answer with my own voice, to show not only the diversity of ethnicities, religions, and cultures in the region, but also the diversity of political opinion, fervor and hopes.

I was joined over time by a growing number of similar voices, declaring in unison that we are Muslim and moderate, idealistic and hopeful, Jewish and peaceful; we are Christians, Baha’is, Sunnis and Shias; Persians and Arabs; Turks, Berbers and Kurds.

This became the concept behind MideastYouth.com, the network I founded in May, 2006, with the mission to provide young people with the freedom and opportunity of expression, and promote a fierce but respectful dialogue among the highly diverse youth of all backgrounds. We use this freedom to create social change and to prove that the collaboration necessary for stability is possible. We risk our safety to do what we do because we believe that liberty and our right of free expression are worth fighting for.

In 2007, Mideast Youth actively expanded its online presence and now operates a series of initiatives and campaigns that target the human rights of ethnic and religious minorities, as well as the rights of migrant workers in the Middle East. I do what I do because I want the next generation to grow up in a society where everyone’s human rights are respected, regardless of race, gender, religion, sexual orientation or ethnicity. I know that such a future is possible, but only if we work hard enough today.

8 Responses to “One Young World – Esra’a Al Shafei”

  1. 2 Nick in Atlanta
    January 29, 2010 at 16:35

    No. The entire reasoning for invading Iraq and regime change sets a precedent that anyone in any nation should find terrifying. If the world superpowers and their allies do not like your government, they change it. Spilling a little of the blood of their own citizens, but far more of someone elses.

    This is at the heart of the matter. In the past, it was some sort of act on the part of a nation, beyond it’s own borders that were the only reason for engaging in war. Now all it really takes is “suspicions” and allegations, true or false.

    The other ideas which arose from the invasion of Iraq once the original reasons were proven false are even more frightening. One the WMDs were proven to be fairy tales, Coercive Democracy became the justification.

    No matter how you slice it, imposing a form of government from the outside is a violation of every treaty that arose in the wake of WWII.

  2. 3 Jagjit Singh Mukandpuri
    January 29, 2010 at 16:49

    Congratulations, social equality is must.

  3. 4 gary indiana
    January 29, 2010 at 17:58

    Esra’a, I welcome your insights and comments. I offer some advice as an old person. I’ve found intellect and freewill aren’t always the wonderful gifts they first appear; but love and humor are ever useful amongst friends. So, I hope there is also sometimes a smiley picture to show.

  4. 5 K Rana
    January 30, 2010 at 01:02

    Esra’a Al Shafei, kudos for your efforts and initiative.

    I’m one of One Young World’s delegate too (Mauritian Delegate) and I’m hoping to be part of ‘World Have Your Say’ as well. Just a lil about me : I’m a final year undergrad student and a climate activist.

    Mauritius, similar to most Small Island Developing States (SIDS), is often under-represented whereas we are the most vulnerable ones in terms of geographic location, remoteness, and the impacts of Climate Change. Our voices went unheard at the COP15 negotiations. I hope they don’t this time.

  5. 6 Vyv Wilkins
    January 31, 2010 at 15:40

    Blair is a disgrace to the honour of our fallen heroes who were sent to enforce an illegal war. If Blair is a God fearing person (God came late to him after he instigated action that has killed 200,00 innocents) he should at least have the humility to acknowledge he was wrong. But no he is a coward and will lie to his dying day. If you don’t like these words Blair sue me. I would welcome the chance to see you look away from me when I ask, ‘Can you sleep at night’. May I add his performance at the enquiry was just that. Blair was embarrassing, at least the world has seen that in the cold light of day. Pity the enquiry wont invite Bush to give evidence now that would be fun.

  6. 7 JanB
    January 31, 2010 at 19:20

    Well good luck: Bahrain isn’t exactly known for its liberal press policies. Let’s hope they don’t chop your head off for saying you don’t like the color of the king’s new Rolls Royce…

  7. February 2, 2010 at 06:42

    Hi Esia’a,

    I hope you excitement spills over into you presentation and contributions at this convention.

    God bless your endeavor


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