…and some of it is good news.
Here’s an announcement of an essay contest run by the American Islamic Congress:
The American Islamic Congress (AIC) has announced its newest project: the “Dream Deferred Essay Contest” on civil rights in the Middle East. The contest, which offers prizes up to $2,000 for top essays on the importance of promoting civil rights, is open to Americans and Middle Easterners under the age of 26.
The AIC is a non-profit dedicated to promoting interfaith understanding and human rights. The essay contest is part of its new program, HAMSA – Hands Across the Mideast Support Alliance. Regional partners in launching the contest include the Cairo-based Ibn Khaldoun Center and the Tharwa Project, a minority rights initiative founded in Damascus.
The essay contest, which takes its name from a poem by Langston Hughes, is the idea of Tharwa Project co-founder Ammar Abdulhamid. He officially announced the contest during a presentation at Harvard University.
They explain it better than I could.
“We need to mobilize a new generation of thinkers and leaders in the Middle East,” Abdulhamid said. “This essay contest is a way to provide incentive for youth to share their ideas for promoting individual liberty and tolerance. We are asking young people to share their frustrations and their dreams, and to stand up for individual rights.”
The contest was formally launched to Middle Eastern audiences by AIC executive director Zainab Al-Suwaij at a conference of female human rights activists in Jordan. Al-Suwaij told conference participants from across the Arab world that effective partnership is key to advancing civil rights.
“Middle Eastern reformers need support from American activists,” Al-Suwaij noted. “We are encouraging young Americans to think about how they can use their freedom to help people their own age in the Middle East. We need to extend our hands in support – and young Americans can play an important role.”
The official website for the contest is http://www.Hamsaweb.org. Essays must address one of several questions posted on the site and can be submitted in English, Arabic, French, or Farsi. The deadline is February 28, 2006. A diverse panel of celebrity judges – including Gloria Steinem and civil rights veteran Normal Hill – will select the winning essays. See the website for a complete list of judges.
A few of our commenters may be young enough to enter, and I’d encourage them to do it. I’d like to read what they have to say.