On Friday, the 16th of February, the Timbuktu Institute African Center for Peace Studies welcomed Ambassador Stephan Röken of Germany.

 

His Excellency expressed an interest in the Institute after having read the director BakarySambe’s column in JeuneAfrique, “Les Kalashnikovs n’ontjamaisvaincu les ideologues.” Agreeing that education and other preventative measures are the solution to growing violent extremism across the Sahel, Ambassador Röken sought to learn more about the mission of the Timbuktu Institute; the promotion of African cultural resources in order to resolve and prevent conflict in all forms.

 

In particular, Sambe and Röken discussed the current educational divide in Senegal. Like many other countries in the Sahel, Senegalese students are split between an ‘official’, French, and secular education, and Koranic schools. Sambe sees this a divide with great potential for danger, as the political elite have all been products of the French system since independence. The lack of valorization of the Koranic schools and those who hold an Arabic baccalaureate could lead to more than political ramifications.

 

In turn, Ambassador Röken spoke of Germany’s future role in conflict prevention. He noted that Germany has a growing interest in Sahel security due to domestic politics surrounding migration. He praised the work produced by the Timbuktu institute through partnerships with German institutions like the Konrad Adenauer Foundation, and Rosa Luxembourg.

 

His excellency expressed his hope that such partnerships would continue, that other German institutions would become involved, and noted that he looked forward to potential future partnerships between the Timbuktu Institute and the German Embassy.

 

 

In this Lettre de l’Observatoire des Radicalismes, the Timbuktu Institute seeks to “document a theme largely debated beyond suppositions and hypotheses, specifically on Salafism’s force and real impact amongst young people.”

“The analysis of online messaging from this sect’s principal predicators has been particularly instructive regarding the dangers or lack thereof surrounding these discourses which, contrary to popular belief, are as varied as they are contradictory,” emphasized Bakary Sambe.

Considering the prevalence of internet and social media use by extremist groups to recruit members, the Timbuktu Institute seeks to add to the debate surrounding online recruitment with this case study, based on months of following Salafist Youtube personalities.

The study is particularly interested in Salafist digital strategies in regards to messaging content, chosen targets, and opposition to Sufi brotherhoods as part of wider recruitment tactics.

The director of the Institute specified “the methodology adopted for the study necessitated analysis by researchers who are not familiar with Senegalese Salafist discourse, in order to avoid any and all forms of bias. The study was performed by our American research assistant Stephanie L. Schmitt, allowing for a new perspective from a curious and driven member of the team. A French version of the article will soon be available.”

The report Salafist Online Messaging and Digital Strategies in Senegal can be read via the attached link, or under the ‘Publications’ section of our website.

Download the report by clicking on the following link Salafist Online Messaging and Digital strategies in Senegal

On Monday, director of the Timbuktu Institute Bakary Sambe invited authorities to put in place an “inclusive national strategy” to prevent and counter violent extremism.

“This is a solemn call to the Senegalese government to institute an inclusive national strategy to prevent and counter violent extremism,” he declared.

Dr. Sambe’s remarks were part of a speech given at the closing ceremony of the Institute’s “Educating for Peace” program, which was conducted with the support of the American embassy.

For him, it is urgent to develop such a strategy “considering the constant mutation of the terrorism phenomenon.” He elaborated the Senegalese plan should be “part of a broader sub regional network,” and that authorities should not “neglect to integrate regional systems of cooperation” into the plan.

Dr. Sambe also indicated that the creation of the strategy should involve religious and civil society leaders as well as researchers, and should use education as a central policy pillar.

“The Institute implores Senegalese authorities to work with their African and International partners to put in place and operationalize a collaborative platform to anticipate risks,” said Sambe.

Specifically, Sambe cited homegrown terrorism, a risk all countries in the region are working to counter and prevent.

Tulinabo Salama Mushingi, United States Ambassador to Senegal, “by emphasizing dialogue and interaction, a new generation will understand the value of of the exchange of beliefs, thoughts, and ideas.”

His Excellency continued, “tolerance does not imply a lack of engagement in regards to the beliefs of others, rather, it condemns the oppression and persecution of other’s beliefs.”

He concluded “in this program [Educating for Peace], it is not a question of changing another’s opinion. Instead, it seeks to understand the perspectives of others in order to live peacefully.”

Written in the style of an open letter from one global citizen to another, « Moi, musulman, je n’ai pas à me justifier » by Seydi Diamil Niane seeks to steer the confusing and politically charged conversation about Muslims and their relation to violent extremism away from the damaging blame game towards a call for a spiritual Islam compatible with humanist values. Moreover, while Diamil Niane’s condemnation of extremism is absolute, he rejects the notion that he or any other Muslim ought to apologize or distinguish him or herself as one of the ‘good guys’ in the wake of a terrorist incident. On page 35, Diamil Niane writes: “If I decide to take up the pen to denounce the violent extremism of certain groups claiming to share in my own religion, then it is by personal choice and not by obligation.”

More interesting still, is Diamil Niane’s rationale for refusing to give in to the pressure to defend one’s religion every time these heinous acts perpetrated by a tiny minority – who disproportionately kill other Muslims - are brought up. Logically, it makes sense that one person cannot be held in any way responsible for an act they did not commit themselves. However, today’s media climate reflects a double standard whereby Muslims are expected to justify their faith after terrorist attacks when the same courtesy does not apply to other groups, religious or otherwise. For example, Christians are hardly ever called upon to excuse themselves for the war in Iraq, even though George Bush identified as a Christian. In a similar vein, media pundits do not demand that every French citizen beg for forgiveness for the atrocities committed by their government during the colonial period.

Given the book’s target audience of “global citizens”, Diamil Niane does a commendable job of linking Islamophobia, that is, a prejudice against Muslims which is completely separate from justified criticisms of Islamic thought and practice, to other forms of racisms that persist in 21st century in France. By so doing, the book is able to connect to a larger audience by drawing the connection between Islamophobia and other social justice issues such as the French strain of anti-Semitism that has placed Jews under the microscope for centuries as easy scapegoats (case in point, the Dreyfus Affair) and led to the characterization of an entire religious community as somehow less trustworthy than other French citizens.

            Indeed, for me the book’s most touching moment came early on in the dedication page. In addition to two tributes to the author’s mother and a former teacher, the book is dedicated to Rosa Parks, or, in the author’s own words, “She who refused to explain herself.” This tribute reminded me that whether a people are fighting for justice on the basis of religion or race, it is never up to society at large to dictate the terms of their so-called equal treatment. Muslims do not have to apologize profusely for practicing their faith to make non-Muslims feel safer, nor should Americans to dictate what black Americans can or cannot speak out against because their “Black Lives Matter” protests make parts of white America uneasy.

            Yet, the book’s title begs the question, if Muslims are not obligated to constantly explain or justify their faith, then what can they do to fight back against the tide of criticisms against their religion? For the author, the answer to this question is to show the beauty of Islam through their exemplary behavior and acts of kindness. Dialogue, particularly interfaith dialogue, is also stressed as essential to promoting understanding and counteracting intolerance against a religion that is so deeply misunderstood by many, particularly in the West. And while I wholeheartedly agree that interfaith dialogue is necessary to counteract Islamophobia, I worry that this sort of interpersonal connection is not always possible.

            Granted, my perception is a little skewed. I live in a country with a population of 323 million of which an estimated 3.5 million individuals identify as Muslim. It is not uncommon, especially in rural areas, for a fully mature adult to not know a single Muslim person. Speaking from personal experience, before attending university I knew only a handful of Muslim families in my small town which was mostly made up of the descendants of Irish or Italian immigrants. Still, after every incident of radical Islamic terrorism the same scenario plays out on U.S. television screens. A so-called “expert” on Islam gets on a national news network such as Fox News to denounce Islam as inherently violent. Oftentimes, they produce one verse of the Qur’an that alludes to physical retaliation of some sort, completely isolated from both its historical context and its surrounding verses of course, and wave it around to evoke fear and suspicion of Muslims residing in the U.S. My point is, that it is much easier to fear and otherize Islam when you have no personal experience whatsoever interacting with Muslims. Moreover, in the same way that it is unreasonable to ask a Muslim to justify their faith after a terrorist incident, we cannot burden the relatively small number of Muslim-Americans with the task of educating the masses of non-Muslims whose knowledge of Islamic is next to nothing. This presents quite the dilemma for countries without a sizable Muslim minority such as the United States. Although the book provides fascinating insights for Muslims on how to internalize the core values of their faith and walk along the path of Sufism, I was left wondering what the author’s recommendations for non-Muslims to promote tolerance and interreligious understanding would be.

Aoife Croucher

Research Intern at Timbuktu Institute –African Center for Peace Studies

Timbuktu institute est en train de mettre en place des stratégies de formation au profit des jeunes sénégalais, notamment leur autonomisation. Cela, quelle que soit la couche sociale à laquelle ils appartiennent, a signalé son directeur, le Dr Bakary Sambe, enseignant-chercheur au Centre d’études des religions (Cer) de l’Université Gaston Berger de Saint-Louis.

En partenariat avec le centre marocain Annajah (réussite en arabe), une formation a été organisée pour inciter les jeunes à être capables de se prendre en charge et à être responsables dans le cadre de l’entreprenariat et de l’auto-emploi, les problèmes les plus cruciaux auxquels les Etats de l’Afrique de l’Ouest font face. « Aujourd’hui, nous formons des jeunes issus de toutes les couches sociales, des universités, des lycées, des porteurs de projets, entre autres, pour leur faire bénéficier d’une prise de conscience de leurs capacités à s’approprier les dispositifs que l’Etat sénégalais a mis en place comme l’Anpej, le Fongip, etc. », a déclaré Bakary Sambe, enseignant-chercheur au Centre d’études des religions (Cer) de l’Université Gaston Berger de Saint-Louis.

L’idée, selon le directeur de Timbuktu institute, c’est de faire en sorte que les jeunes puissent prendre conscience de leur potentiel en présentant des projets viables et à être autonomes. Il a relevé que le Sénégal, tout comme les autres pays du continent, pourrait bénéficier du dividende démographique si les jeunes sont formés. En plus des jeunes scolarisés en français, la formation est également destinée à ceux formés en langue arabe qui, parfois, se retrouvent sans offre d’emploi.

Pour l’adjoint au préfet du département de Mbour, Alseyni Bangoura, qui a assisté au démarrage de cette formation, « depuis 2012, le président de la République, Macky Sall, a fait des efforts en créant le Baccalauréat arabe permettant aux bacheliers en arabe d’accéder aux universités et en ouvrant une section qui leur est dédiée à l’Ecole nationale d’administration (Ena) ». Dr Bakary Sambe a ajouté : « Nous voulons, dans le cadre de cette initiative, renforcer cela, pour que les arabisants puissent trouver leur place sur l’échiquier politique, économique et social ».

Justifiant leur présence à Mbour, il a souligné qu’elle entre dans une perspective de décentralisation. « Après deux sessions de formation qui se sont tenues respectivement à Dakar et Tivaouane, nous avons voulu faire dans la décentralisation en venant à Mbour qui se trouve être un endroit réputé pour ses activités touristiques, avec beaucoup d’incitations et de risques, mais aussi pour une meilleure insertion des cadres arabophones », a dit M. Sambe. Il a fait part d’un projet en gestation à Mbour en partenariat avec l’ambassade de France au Sénégal, le Conseil départemental de Mbour et les organisations sportives et de jeunes.

« Partout où nous avons organisé des formations, les jeunes ne sont plus les mêmes au niveau de leur mentalité et de leur possibilité de se prendre en charge, mais aussi d’une responsabilisation et de s’engager en tant que citoyens modèles qui se demandent certes qu’est-ce que l’Etat peut faire pour eux, mais aussi ce qu’ils pourraient faire pour l’Etat et pour leur pays », a ajouté Bakary Sambe.

L’adjoint au préfet du département de Mbour a déclaré que cette formation dont les bénéficiaires sont constitués majoritairement de jeunes est « une initiative capitale et sûre » en phase avec la politique du gouvernement du Sénégal qui ne saurait prospérer sans une bonne formation des jeunes.

Source : .lesoleil.sn

Timbuktu institute, à travers le Centre ouest-africain pour les études de paix (WACPS, en anglais), est en train de mettre en place des stratégies dans le but de l’autonomisation des jeunes, a annoncé, jeudi, à Mbour, ouest), son directeur, Dr Bakary Samb.
 
Dr Samb a précisé que cette formation initiée en partenariat avec le centre marocain, Annajah (réussite pour tous, en arabe), vise à former les jeunes à être capables de se prendre en charge et à être responsables dans le cadre de l’entreprenariat et de l’auto-emploi., selon lui, ce sont "es problèmes les plus cruciaux" auxquels font face les Etats de l’Afrique de l’Ouest.
 
"Aujourd’hui, nous formons des jeunes (...) pour leur faire bénéficier d’une prise de conscience de leurs capacités à s’approprier les dispositifs que l’Etat sénégalais a mis en place, comme l’Agence nationale pour la promotion de l’emploi des jeunes (ANPEJ), le Fonds de garantie des investissements prioritaires (FONGIP), etc.", a-t-il expliqué.
 
L’idée, a ajouté le directeur de Timbuktu institute, c’est de faire en sorte que ces jeunes-là puissent prendre conscience de leurs potentiels en présentant des projets viables et à être autonomes.

Dr Bakary Samb a relevé que le Sénégal, tout comme les autres pays du continent, pourrait bénéficier de ce dividende démographique si les jeunes sont formés.
 
Cette formation est également destinée à des jeunes formés en langue arabe qui, parfois, se retrouvent sans offre d’emplois.

"Depuis 2012, le président de la République, Macky Sall a fait des efforts, en créant le baccalauréat arabe, en permettant aux bacheliers en arabe d’accéder aux universités et en ouvrant une section qui leur est dédiée à l’Ecole nationale d’administration (ENA)", s’est-il réjoui.
 
"Nous voulons, dans le cadre de cette initiative, renforcer cela, pour que les arabisants puissent trouver leur place sur l’échiquier politique, économique et social", a dit Dr Samb, également enseignant-chercheur au Centre d’études des religions (CER) de l’Université Gaston Berger de Saint-Louis (nord).

ADE/ASB

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