Guest Blog

Stand up and be counted

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Wednesday, 26 August, 2009

Frustrated by the lack of youth participation in the decision-making process, Zaher Bassioni set out to establish a youth organisation alongside similar-minded young people. Here, he blogs about his vision for a secular Palestinian society - one that practises peace, promotes democracy, and respects individual freedoms.

Any person may occasionally live through periods of hard times, which might either thwart the person’s motivation or urge this person to take a decision to bring about change. Similar to any other Palestinian, I have lived through extremely hard times; be it from the Israeli occupation which bears the responsibility of killing many of my family members and widening the schism between me and my family members for more than nine years, or from the Palestinian internal division which has had a direct impact on me.

Along with other Palestinian youth, I suffer from the disengagement of youth in the decision-making process, particularly political decisions and the direct decisions that have a direct impact on my future and the future of my life in this country. Circumstances continue to deteriorate; the society is becoming more extremist in all forms due to the prevailing feelings of frustration and the absence of a positive future vision.

I am therefore faced with two options; I either choose to be a spectator of events hoping that a positive change will be achieved, or choose to be an initiator and become involved in achieving change and being influential within my community. Personally, I chose to be a player in this process. In 2002, a group of colleagues and I took the initiative to establish a youth organisation named “Leaders”. Our aim was creating a new Palestinian realism through the creation and development of youth leaders who could lead a prominent role in the political, economic and social aspects of Palestinian society.

With the cooperation of my colleagues, I have developed a vision of a secular Palestinian society that is respectful of political, religious and civil freedoms; a society that practises peace, equality, participation and democracy, whereby youth has a leading role to play. My role in achieving this vision lies within my involvement in working with and creating a Palestinian youth cadre.

Zaher Bassioni is 26 years old and Palestinian. He was born in Lebanon and now lives in Ramallah, while his family lives in the Gaza strip. He studied civil engineering in Birzeit University and now works as an outreach officer for Leaders Organisation.

Views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of The Elders or The Elders Foundation.

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