30 young religious leaders from all over Europe met in Taplow Court, England, on December 2-5, hosted by the Buddhist community of Soko Gokkai UK, for Religions for Peace, European Interfaith Youth Network’s Summit and training on “Welcoming the Other – Multireligious Youth Against Religious Extremism”. The Summit gathered representatives of 17 EIYN’s member organizations, representing Buddhist, Christian, Hindu, Jewish, Muslim, Sikh, Zoroastrian faiths; representatives of other organizations from different countries that work with youth and came for the training; as well as UK-based organizations that launched RfP UK Interfaith Youth Network, during the Summit.
The Summit participants took part in training sessions, and listened to lectures on issues such as: radicalism, extremism, dialogue, critical engagement with social media and religious scriptures, religious imperative of welcoming the other. Part of the training was led by Adam Deen – previously a senior member of an extremist religious organization, Al-Muhajiroun, who finally became disillusioned with his extremist beliefs, left the movement and dedicates his work now to countering extremism. Adam talked in details about his process of what “brought him back” to the non-extremist world: 1. personal experience of meeting somebody who was a victim of an extremist attack (9/11 attack). 2. studying philosophical text by famous philosophers, that taught him skills of critical and analytical thinking (that he lacked before. Adam studied with one professor who was a rebel member of the same organization and finally left). Equipped with critical thinking, he was no longer able to follow the extremist logic and saw all the videos he saw before and speeches in a different light, and left the movement.