In Photos: President Sisi inaugurates Second World Youth Forum in Egypt's Sharm El-Sheikh

Menna Alaa El-Din,Saturday 3 Nov 2018

Sisi opens conference in 'name of world peace'; Hany Milad Hanna, son of the late Coptic author, calls for respecting religious pluralism; Yazidi activist Nadia Murad decries terrorism

President Sisi and his spouse (C) and Egyptian and foreign dignitaries attending the opening session of the forum (Photo courtesy of presidency)

Egypt’s President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi gave a short speech at the opening session of the Second World Youth Forum in Sharm El-Sheikh on Saturday to inaugurate the event and welcome the attendees.

The president inaugurated the forum "in the name of humanity, and to a world full of hope and peace’.  

El-Sisi applauded comments made earlier in the evening at the opening session by Yazidi human rights activist and Nobel peace prize winner Nadia Murad, where she condemned terrorist organisations and expressed solidarity with Egypt in its war against terrorism.

“I tell Nadia, that the first recommendation of the forum would be a call on the world to acknowledge the crimes committed by Daesh and terrorist organisations," he said.

Some 5,000 young people from 145 countries are expected to attend this year's edition of the forum.

The event, which is organised by Egypt, runs from 3 to 6 November, and is held under the auspices of the Egyptian president.

Many of the attendees held their country's flag as they waited for the opening ceremony to kick off.

Participants waiving national flags ahead of start of opening session

This year, the forum’s events will revolve around a vision inspired by The Seven Pillars of the Egyptian Identity, a book by Milad Hanna written for the purpose of emphasising the unity and harmony of Egyptian society despite divergences and differences, according to the forum’s official website.

Hany Milad Hanna, the son of the late Coptic writer, gave the opening remarks at the forum.

Hanna stressed that his father believed in the importance of respecting religious pluralism in society, considering it the foundation of a civil state governed by citizenship rights.

He said his father’s message to the youths of today, who are strained by divisions and conflicts, would be one of accepting one another and honouring diversity.

Hany Milad Hanna, the son of famous Coptic thinker and historian Milad Hanna

Yazidi Murad also spoke at the podium, condemning a Friday terrorist attack which killed seven Copts and injured 10 others in Upper Egypt’s Minya.

Murad was kidnapped by the Islamic State group with around 1,000 other Yazidi women and children from their village of Kojo in the Sinjar district of northern Iraq in 2014. She later escaped.

“Terrorist attacks can’t be justified under any religion or belief,” Murad said, also citing Islamic State group terror attacks in Syria and Iraq.

She also spoke of sufferings faced by Yazidis under Daesh.

El-Sisi had met Murad in 2015, when he said none of the sufferings faced by Murad and her people have a relation to Islam and vowed to support the people of Iraq.

“Evil never prevails,” Murad said, quoting El-Sisi’s words to her during their meeting.

Yazidi human rights activist and Nobel Prize for Peace winner Nadia Murad

Jayathma Wickramanayake, who currently serves as the United Nations Secretary-General’s Envoy on Youth, was also among the speakers on the forum’s first day.

Wickramanayake thanked El-Sisi for his participation and patronage of the forum, as well as listening to all in regards to different topics.

She said that eliminating poverty, climate change, and accomplishing security and societal peace are all important issues set to be discussed as part of the forum’s agenda.

She also pointed to the importance of innovation by young people as a key element to speed development, and voiced her support for empowering women and children and Egypt.

“We call for the empowerment of youths as an investment in any country is one made through its youths,” she concluded. 

United Nations Secretary-General’s Envoy on Youth

Zondwa Mandela, the grandson of the late South African leader Nelson Mandela, spoke during the forum on his family's legacy of peace.

"I am here to encourage you not to limit the scope or scale of your dreams,” he said.

Nelson Mandela’s grandson, Zondwa Mandela

Mohamed Khairat, the founder and chief editor of the popular Egyptian Streets news website, also spoke during the forum.

Khairat, a graduate in journalism from Australia, discussed his experience establishing the website in 2012 at the age of 21.

Last year, the forum attracted thousands of participants of different nationalities, with official delegations from several states.

The forum identifies itself as one “built by promising youth, that sends a message of peace, prosperity, harmony and progress to the entire world.”

El-Sisi is expected to attend the three days of the forum.

Sisi welcomes attendees

Sisi welcomes attendees

Sisi welcomes attendees

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