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Jan. 03, 2019

Muslim Voices: Grassroots Approaches to Peacebuilding


Violent extremist movements continue to fuel the world’s most challenging wars in Africa and Asia, and right-wing extremism in Europe and the United States has spawned homegrown terrorist networks and fueled the rise of Islamophobia.

An approach that relies solely on an aggressive security framework has the potential to further marginalize at-risk communities and increase the threat of violent extremism.

Instead, grassroots approaches to peacebuilding grounded in human rights principles are needed to bring the necessary changes for sustainable peace and social cohesion.


Houda Abadi, Ph.D is the associate director for the Middle East and North Africa at The Carter Center. She developed a coding methodology to analyze violent extremist propaganda, and designed a locally sensitive and inclusive grassroots project that prevents and combats extremism in all its forms. Prior to joining the Center, Abadi served as the director of education in two nonprofit organizations that work on conflict transformation, interfaith, and youth empowerment. Abadi holds an M.A. in international relations and diplomacy, with a concentration in Middle East studies and conflict resolution; and a Ph.D. in political communication and media studies.

Sanaa Moussalim, Ph.D. is a scholar and civil rights activist. Dr. Moussalim is a former civil servant of the ministry of agriculture of Morocco and worked on external service for the Driss Benzekri Foundation for Human Rights and Democracy. She was also secretary general of REMADEL, the civil society network of local rural development initiatives in the Maghreb countries Tunisia, Algeria, Morocco and Mauretania.
Imam Makram El-Amin is the imam of Masjid An-Bur in Minneapolis, Minnesota, one of the fastest-growing and most culturally diverse Muslim congregations in the United States. He is engaged in peacebuilding at the local and internal level, from mentoring men transitioning from prison to interfaith dialogue with Bishop Desmond Tutu and the Dali Lama. For more than two decades, Imam El-Amin’s work as a religious and community leader has been firmly rooted in the principles of human dignity and social justice.
Youssef Chihab is the Director of the Europe Department and former Director of the Middle East and North Africa Department of the Alliance for Freedom and Dignity, a non-profit dedicated to the defense and promotion of human rights. Mr. Chihad holds a Bachelor of Laws and a Master’s degree in Political Science and Economics. He is an activist and inter-faith educator based in Belgium whose work centers on tolerance, diversity, and combatting extremism in all forms.

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