The Young Republic offer democratic support for young refugees

The Young Republic is a non-governmental organization co-founded by Mohammed Al-Saud in 2015. The organization aims to empower young refugees in Europe to foster their democratic participation, civic engagement and social inclusion in their host communities.
– If democracy is not inclusive for all people, then there is no democracy, says Mohammed Al-Saud.

During the ICLD-seminar in Almedalen the topic is: “How do we create inclusive cities for all?” Mohammed Al-Saud, one of the panellist, finds the question challenging:
– It is a really really important question on so many levels. Today we perceive democracy to be the voice of a majority that is the result of an election that not everybody takes part in.

What are your expectations from ICLD-seminar in Almedalen?
– I have good expectations, this is a question that needs to be asked and Almedalen is a good place for it. I will try to share my experiences working with inclusion over the past three years and offer some practical suggestions for decision makers. Of course I also would like to connect with other people that work in the same field.

The Young Republic won the Swedish part of the Charlemagne Youth Prize in 2017. Together with 27 national winning projects they were in May invited to compete in an award ceremony in Aachen, Germany.
– We did not win in Aachen, but we were one of the finalists. And last year we won the European Citizenship Award so I would like to think that we are doing a good job considering the limited resources that we have, says Mohammed.

Why are young people important to help create a democratic process?
– We believe that young people are the dynamo of social and democratic changes. Usually they are excluded from the democratic process, they don’t have the possibility to participate in the processes that influence their lives which means the democracy itself is not democratic.

How do you go about to create an environment that enables young refugees to be part of decisions that affects their lives?
– We work with a holistic approach; non-formal education, advocacy and research. They are different pieces of the puzzle but they are at the same time connected to create an environment that can help and support a young refugee to be included.

Refugees bring challenges to the cities where they settle, but they also bring possibilities.
– One should start to think about creating some sort of consulting group where younger people can make their voice heard about how to create an inclusive city. The city counsel could turn to this group when they are about to make a decision that is related to young refugees. If this group could have an input we would have a very basic form of democracy.

The focus of the seminar is on the role of cities as frontrunners for the democratic inclusion of refugees.
– We need to think about the original aim of democracy – that people want to protect their rights and their freedom. That is democracy, and to make that work we need to include everyone.

Mohammed Al-Saud would like to connect young refugees with their peers from the host community. And he can see signs of progress:
– Ask them about their future plans, how do they see democracy, how do they see their role? The way people are looking at refugees are starting to change, people are starting to view refugees as people that are starting initiatives and projects in their community. This is important to understand for the decision makers and people in general, that refugees are contributing to the community.

FACTS/The Young Republic
– Promote the culture of democracy, human rights, gender equality and freedom of speech among young refugees and build their civic capacities.
– Foster youth participation, civic engagement and active citizenship of young Syrian refugees in their host communities and support their social inclusion.
– Enhance cultural exchange and cooperation between young refugees and their peers from the host communities.
– Build a strong base for youth integration and engagement that counter extremism, radicalization and hate.

FACTS/Charlemagne Youth Prize:
The prize is handed out out by the European Parliament and the International Charlemagne Prize Foundation every year to young people aged between 16 and 30 who have been involved with projects helping to promote understanding between people from different European countries.