The Dar Al-Salam Organization, a Yemeni peace organization with tribal and Sufi roots, held a two day workshop for tribal sheikhs in the Sheraton Hotel, Sana’a, on Saturday 30th and Sunday 31st October, entitled: “Islam: Countering Societal Violence.”
At the same time the Dar Al-Salam Organization proudly announced the official start of an 18 month project sponsored by the European Commission entitled “Strengthening Social Cohesion in Conflicted Affected Areas in Yemen.”
The project will cover the governorates of Abyan, Al-Jawf and Lahej building community resilience to violence through advocacy work with community leaders and research-informed awareness campaigns with target demographic groups.
The “Islam: Countering Societal Violence” workshop is part of a comprehensive program of activities tackling violence and extremism, and was kindly funded by the American Embassy.
Sheikh Abdul Rahman Al-Marwani, the head of the Dar Al-Salam Organization, inaugurated the conference, speaking of the relative recent phenomena of religious extremism in Yemen, and the necessity to confront it and address the issue – an issue which the organization has sought to counter since its inception.
“The road is full of thorns and the path treacherous, but it is a noble cause worthy of hope and commitment,” Sheikh Al-Marwani said.
“We would not say that these efforts will succeed in fully eliminating the complex and protracted problems found along this path, but we are stepping in the right direction. With the help of Allah we will surmount all the challenges through our dedication,” he added.
The workshop brought together sheikhs from five target governorates (Shabwah, Abyan, Al-Jawf, Ma’rib and Sana’a) to engage with messages of peace and tolerance grounded in Islam. It featured a symposium of five papers especially prepared by academics from Sana’a University and Islamic scholars on subjects exploring Islam’s position against violence, and its recommendations dealing with it legally, socially, intellectually and pedagogically.
The basis of the workshop considered religion as perhaps the most powerful means to provide messages of peace that would resonate in Yemeni society, and sought to express this message through a culturally relevant medium; in this case through tribal sheikhs of principally affected governorates were assessed to be the most relevant social platform to raise public consciousness.
After the symposium presentations the workshop saw lively discussion from the participating tribal sheikhs, who had clearly engaged with the topics and ideas at hand.