Tens of thousands of young people from across the Middle East are expected to participate next week in an online peace conference that organizers say is a powerful message against extremism.
The YaLa Young Leaders program is hosting the conference to celebrate its fifth anniversary. The Facebook group, which hosts online lectures and a “citizen journalism” program, has grown to nearly 1 million members — most of them from across the Arab world. Actress Sharon Stone, former NBA Commissioner David Stern, EU Foreign Policy chief Federica Mogherini, and more than 20 foreign ministers are among the scheduled speakers. YaLa’s founder, former Israeli peace negotiator Uri Savir, says the group’s growth shows that most young people in the Middle East detest extremism and just want “a normal life.”