ROME: The first International Youth Forum Against Islamophobia will be held this weekend in Rome.
The online forum, organized as part of the Youth Empowerment Support project, aims to raise awareness about Islamophobia so as to effectively combat it.
“Free to believe, free to think, free to be” is the title of the event, which is co-funded by the Rights, Equality and Citizenship Program of the European Commission.
The forum “aims to be a space and an opportunity for young people to discuss and think concretely about how to build a more inclusive and diverse society, free from stereotypes and discrimination, through debates, workshops and exchanges of experiences,” the organizers said at a press conference attended by Arab News.
The goal, they added, is “to create new connections between communities in Europe and to transfer knowledge” so as to help young Italians and Europeans — Muslim and non-Muslim alike — provide information and guidance on the rights of religious minorities.
At the end of the forum, a youth manifesto against Islamophobia will be approved. The event will include panels of experts with representatives from Muslim organizations, civil society, and Italian and European institutions.
Triantafillos Loukarelis, director of the European Network Against Racism, said Muslim females, “particularly if they wear religious symbols, are victims of multiple discrimination — based on gender, religion and origin — which results in verbal aggression in public, hate speech on social media and social exclusion, with difficulties in accessing the labor market and training courses.”
Islam is the second-largest religion in Italy with about 2.5 million faithful, over 1 million of them with Italian citizenship.
According to a study published recently by ENAR, 65 percent of Italian Muslims say they have suffered violence, prejudice or discrimination.