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The Iraqi Civil Society Solidarity Initiative (ICSSI) is dedicated to bringing together Iraqi and international civil societies through concrete actions to build together another Iraq, with peace and Human Rights for all.

In Nasriyah, A Workshop on the Use of “Arts Against Violence” and the Birth of Mashufna Team

August 2016

In Nasiriyah, during the 5th and 6th of August, twenty two young people (Including five girls) gathered to discuss the role of the art in the face of extremism and violence. At a time when voices rise on the need to look for alternatives to war as a mean to counter violent extremism, however, the debate misses any concrete solutions and alternatives that can be a model for the youth.

Few months ago, the Iraqi Social Forum (ISF) which is a wide social space that organize social activities in Baghdad, have organized a workshop on the use of sport against violence. Today, a similar workshop is carried out in Nasiriyah city, but to discuss the use of art against violence and extremism. The ISF and its partners seek through these activities to put forward possible tools to be used by young people to counter the main roots of extremism and violence.

The workshop discussions were managed by the instructor: Gailan al-Jubouri, the path of non-violence coordinator in the ISF and the coordinator of La-Onf group in Baghdad, he is also one of the activists in Sawtona organization located in Baghdad. While the activist Naseer Baqir from the city of Nasiriyah contributed to the preparation of the workshop and the selection of participants in cooperation with the Secretariat of the Iraqi Social Forum in Baghdad.

The two-day discussions revolved around a significant number of arts, such as literature, theater, poetry, painting, and other expressive arts, and its role in raising awareness among young people about the causes of violence, ways to address it, and the role of youth in all of this. Mr. Ali al-Shayal, member of the Union of Writers Branch of Dhi Qar was invited to the workshop. al-Shayal talked about the role of artists and writers in particular in the face of violence and extremism, and how they can cooperate with the civil society organizations and the activists of the Iraqi Social Forum and other youth groups in Nasiriyah.

Afterwards, the participants were divided into groups to write proposals and ideas for activities that can involve young people in the use of various arts against violence. The workshop came up with a number of excellent ideas that the participants agreed to follow up and implement a number of them later.

The formation of Mashufna team

After the workshop, 11 of the participants met to discuss the next steps. The group agreed to form a volunteer team to hold various and regular activities in the province of Dhi Qar. They agreed to name it “Mashhofna” volunteer team. The name means the small boat, which was and still the basic mobility mean for the inhabitants of the marshes in southern of Iraq. It is worth mentioning that the province of Dhi Qar hosts an important part of the Iraqi marshlands represented by al-Chebayish marshes. The new team also planned to take the responsibility of preparing for I love Dhi Qar festival that will be the nucleus of volunteer work in the province.

This activity has been supported by ICSSI and Un ponte per… through Karibu Foundation