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Part 3 - The Peace Bag Partners, Projects, and Peacebuilders

Tunisia

AJMEC - Association des jeunes mediterannees pour les echanges culture is a youth association created to improve cultural exchange between young people all over the world. Peace education has always been an objective of all the activities that AJMEC organises or participates in. In this context, AJMEC has recently organised a local youth exchange,which dealt with the problem of community racism in Tunisia - "regionalism". The participants from different regions of Tunisia came together to discuss this problem and brainstorm solutions to it through interactive workshops, communication skills sessions, intellectual games and energizers. In the near future they plan to organise an international meeting to celebrate the "International Year for the Youth". The topic of this meeting will be the "Exclusion of Violence: Mainstreaming the Culture of Peace Among the Youth."


Exclusion of Violence : Mainstreaming the Culture of Peace among the Youth

Nonviolence, culture of peace, youth participation

The project Exclusion of Violence is organised in celebration of the United Nations International Year of Youth: Dialogue and Mutual Understanding, at the youth house of Kalaa Kèbira, Cité Nouvelle (20-21 November 2010). The first forum participants were from the United States, France, Romania, Spain, Morocco, Algeria, Palestine, Portugal and Tunisia.

At the end of the international forum, a general charter was presented by the participants. The charter insists on avoiding all sorts of exclusion, despair, and try to stop the spread of the phenomenon of violence among the youth as well as protecting the youth from all forms of extremism, delinquency, and fanaticism, and send instead of them all a space where the youth can communicate in an atmosphere of love, mutual respect and understanding and entente.

The charter also called for strengthening the position of youth, as the youth are a basic component of society able to make the difference and build a better future.


Meet a Peacebuilder:

Salam. I'm Mouna Hamrita, a youth worker and leader in AJMEC. My story with peace can be traced back to when I joined AJMEC. Getting involved in the organisation gave me exposure to peace and tolerance. Later, I joined the Peace Bag project, where I had another opportunity to expand my knowledge on the global context of peace and conflict issues. The new skills I learned from Vilanova, Spain, where the first phase of the Peace Bag was held, gave me insights into how to implement it in a localised setting and beyond.

The first relevant project completed after Vilanova was a local youth exchange, which dealt with exclusion of regionalism and promoting tolerance among youth of Tunisia. The second one, which will be held on 20-21 November 2010, will be an international meeting about exclusion of violence: mainstreaming the culture of peace among the youth of the world. The second phase of the Peace Bag has reinforced my story on peacebuilding. During sessions and discussions, I felt all of us in the room came from one place despite our differences. At that time, I asked myself: Is it possible for us to be triggered in this way that will lead us to live in peace? Can we make our differences a linking point rather than a separate entity?

These were some of the questions that led me to concretise all the theories that seemed intangible. The Peace Bag experience enlightened me upon a number of issues I used to think of. I am hoping that one day, the youth in the world will come together to celebrate peace. Honestly, it is easy to live in peace. All we need is an open mind and heart during dialogues, because at the end of the day, we are all the same.


The country

Tunisia is a progressive westernized Muslim country. Its population is young, with a mean age below 30 and well-educated, yet unemployment soars and college graduates fail to find appropriate jobs. Censorship dominates the media and the internet.[61]

In Tunis, most young people grew up in a society of fear and repression, frustrated about job shortages and low wages, and infuriated by the corruption, human rights violations, and unchecked abuse of power by the government. Within this landscape, young Tunisians of all backgrounds said they felt part of a lost generation of Arab youth.[62]

The uprising that led to the overthrowing of President Ben Ali on 14 January 2011 [63] has brought hope to young Tunisians, who enjoy their new-found freedoms, and a new sense of political consciousness and responsibility.[64]

Every five years, the "Dialogue with the Youth" takes place – a consultation involving thousands of young people, aimed at identifying youth views, aspirations and expectations. Tunisia contributed to the UN initiative for 2010's "International Year of Youth," organising meetings on peace, and hosting workshops on youth concerns. The National Youth Strategy (2009 - 2014) was launched, jointly involving civil society and the private sector.[65]

Tunisia embraces a culture that is a mix of secular and Islamic features – both new and old. For example, there is the old tradition of hearing the muezzin calling for prayer five times a day and the restriction of alcohol and in contrast there is also a more liberal granting of equal rights to women as well as more independence and freedom as compared to the other Muslim countries. Traditional values are gradually changing especially among the younger generations.[66]