Anti-extremism campaign targets youth
This workshop comes in advance of several others to educate Yemeni youth between 13 and 36 years old from different Yemeni governorates.
The team intends to hold awareness programs in governorates such as Abyan, Shabwa, Hadramout and Taiz, where youth are vulnerable to recruitment by terror groups.
The program is intended to combat Ansar Al-Sharia, an Al-Qaeda linked group that currently dominates large parts of Abyan and some parts of Shabwa.
On May 21, a young Yemeni man blew himself up during a military drill held in preparation for the 20th anniversary of Yemen’s unification. The bombing occurred in Al-Sabeen square, killing approximately 100 troops and injuring hundreds more.
Ansar Al-Sharia took responsibility for the bombing and threatened further attacks against Yemeni army and security personnel.
Feras Shamsan, founder of the team, said the idea of the campaign is based on the fact that young Yemenis have been recruited by extremist groups on the pretext of religion.
“We believe that extremist groups always focus on attracting uneducated youth; therefore, we are trying to educate and enlighten them before they are attracted to these extremist groups,” Shamsan said.
Team members work as volunteers, he said, calling the group “qualified” and adding that the group is financially independent.
“We simply want to educate youth about extremism so that they won't be attracted to these groups so easily.
“The obstacles we face are a lack of cooperation from foundations and media and lack of financial support to distribute brochures and create awareness about the campaign in the targeted governates,” he added.
Shamsan said such awareness programs are not funded enough.
“They (terrorist groups) give high salaries to people they attract. For instance, they give about YR150,000 to shopkeepers in Abyan and Aden.”
Shamsan said that, as a self-described journalist, his reporting on the situation makes him knowledgeable.
He suggested that food and relief organizations should work with similar awareness programs to prevent extremism in Yemen.
“We will continue this campaign but we need the civil organizations that distribute food to cooperate with us so that they can give food to people and we can educate them at the same time.
“Earth is always stable, but human beings create disorder. We have to educate them so we can uproot this disorder and establish stability,” Shamsan said.
“These campaigns succeed in eliminating extremism and attracting young people if all people are aware of the importance of these activities, and if the local community, government and public figures support them,” Noor Ba'bad, assistant deputy minister of Labor and Social Affairs, said.
“Youths work very hard to run these campaigns, and the political parties ought to support them,” she said. “However, they rarely pay attention to these types of efforts.”