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Tribune News Network
THE Chairperson of Qatar Foundation (QF) Her Highness Sheikha Moza bint Nasser attended the debut live event of the relaunched Doha Debates on Tuesday, which saw a diverse range of participants from Qatar and abroad sharing and debating suggestions for alleviating the world’s urgent and worsening refugee crisis.
The Vice Chairperson and CEO of QF Her Excellency Sheikha Hind bint Hamad al Thani also attended the event held at QF partner university Northwestern University in Qatar (NU-Q).
Debate participants included a young Syrian refugee and education activist and award-winning US and British journalists and commentators. They were joined by an Iranian-born conflict mediator, a Lebanese debate moderator and an Afghan refugee as the debate’s digital host, with audience contributions from QF students and Twitter livestream participants from around the world.
Through the innovative new format for Doha Debates – a QF production – debate moderator Ghida Fakhry challenged the participants to focus on solutions to the refugee crisis, while the debate’s digital host, Nelufar Hedayat, highlighted ideas from the international audience participating via Twitter. The Doha-based audience then voted on the most effective solution to the global refugee crisis, choosing “Resist power. Push back” as proposed by debate participant Marc Lamont Hill.
Debate speaker Muzoon Almellehan, a 20-year-old Syrian refugee and education proponent, spoke of the importance of education in giving refugees hope. “Many of us think of refugees as numbers, but behind every number, there is a story,” she said. “Why judge people at a time when they need hope, believe in a better life, and want to build a future for themselves and their children?”
British author and political commentator Douglas Murray highlighted “competing virtues” in the context of migration. “The first virtue is mercy, the desire to be merciful to fellow humans who are suffering,” he said. “And the second is justice — not just for those who are fleeing countries, but for those in the countries they are fleeing to.”
US professor, activist and journalist Marc Lamont Hill said, “We can acknowledge the moment and that we have borders — we can’t pretend we don’t. But we also can’t obsess about this. We can reimagine ourselves as a global community rather than a local community.”
Sanam Naraghi-Anderlini, the debate’s bridge-building ‘connector’, and the founder and executive director of the International Civil Society Action Network, said, “The refugee crisis is not an easy issue, but it is necessary to discuss it because the problem is urgent. Every day children are out of school, a day their lives are put on hold, and a day they are not fulfilling their potential.”
Amjad Atallah, managing director of Doha Debates, applauded the response and the calibre of contributions to the first live event, saying, “The tone and quality of the Doha Debates conversation sets a new high bar for discourse on complex and difficult issues.”
The full debate, and highlights of the event, can be viewed on Doha Debates’ website and social media channels.
The next live Doha Debates event is set to be held on April 3 at NU-Q, with a debate on the merits and challenges of Artificial Intelligence.
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