'Train youths to be ambassadors of Islam'
Abu Dhabi - There is need to create education programmes for Muslim youths in high school and university levels about Islam as a religion of peace and tolerance,
Muslim youths in colleges need to be trained to become ambassadors of Islam so they can spread the Islamic culture and values among people in their communities to help tackle the problem of radicalism and Islamophobia, according to a professor from a Canadian university.
Dr Gahad Hamed, professor at the University of London, Ontario, Canada, told Khaleej Times on the sidelines of the International Muslim Communities Conference (IMCC) in Abu Dhabi on Wednesday that there is need to create education programmes for Muslim youths in high school and university levels about Islam as a religion of peace and tolerance, the Islamic values such as love and kindness and the protection of human rights so they convey the message to fellow youths and non-Muslims in their communities.
"Communities need to create 'Muslim Youth Ambassadors' so they could spread the culture of Islam and the religious values among youngsters as this will protect them from getting radicalised or learning extremist ideologies," said Hamed.
"Muslim students, for example those in their last year of high school and first year at university, should be taught about the religion, its culture and values.
"Youths should also be taught on issues like democracy, women's rights, human rights and the right ways of communication so that they can understand concepts from an Islamic perspective and convey the message to others." Hamed said the young generation has to be well equipped with the Islamic knowledge so they are not misled by bad groups and extremists who have their own motives.
"Education is key in teaching young Muslims about the values of their religion and the importance of tolerance and equipping them with knowledge about the political, social and economic spheres," he added.
In his discussion about the role of media in correcting the stereotyping of Muslims in the West, Monsef Al Salimi, researcher on minority issues with a German Television, said there is conspiracy theories surrounding many issues in Islam and this is basically because of the lack of knowledge or prior research about the Islamic topics being discussed in the media.
"In many cases, the media materials on Islamic concepts are not well prepared before passing them to the public. Some of the topics originate from social media discussions of small groups of people and become big topics of discussion in the mainstream media before being researched to get a broad perspective in regards to the Islamic teachings," said Al Salimi.