Established in 2006, ADYAN (Arabic for Religions) works on valuing religious diversity and promoting coexistence and diversity in Lebanon. The organisation believes a proper understanding of religions can help achieve social cohesion and peacebuilding at both the local and international levels. It has reached an estimated more than 50,000 beneficiaries from all the religious denominations in Lebanon.
In one sentence, ADYAN works to contribute to make the historic path of moving Lebanon from its sectarian realities to citizenship inclusive of diversity within a modern and democratic state.
Education on inclusive citizenship
One year after its establishment, ADYAN launched its ALWAN program, working with schools. Starting with one school, the programme now involves 45 public and private schools. ALWAN has become a national initiative combining activities and training sessions in the framework of youth clubs for secondary-level students to foster their roles as active citizens. ADYAN worked with the Lebanese Ministry of Education on adding the concepts of inclusive citizenship to Lebanese curricula. This programme accomplished its first public achievement with the launching of the National Charter for Education on Living Together in March 2013, which was adopted as a reference in the process of fostering the concept of citizenship inclusive of religious diversity. This led to the renovation of the education manual of Philosophy and Civilizations courses. The collaboration with the ministry moved to another level, to work on finding grounds to use education as a tools in fighting terrorism and extremism.
After establishing dialogue clubs in universities, ADYAN also launched an interreligious project in 2013, working on education and the shared values of citizenship in Christianity and Islam. The result was an educational toolkit for the development of religious education and discourse, both Christian and Muslim, in regards to citizenship and partnership. University students, civil society activists and young professionals have also been given the chance to follow an academic programme on Religion and Public Life to learn more about the management of religious diversity and the influence of religion on laws, politics and citizenship. Since 2007, ADYAN has dedicated an annual national day to spiritual solidarity, held each year in a Lebanese region, where Muslims and Christians come together in common prayer.
It also works with journalists on countering hate speech and defending peace and diversity.
ADYAN took part in the World Tolerance Summit in Dubai in November 2018. The concept of 'Inclusive Citizenship' that is developed by the organization was at the heart of a discussion about advancing a new universal framework for members of different religious groups to live together as equal citizens, during Inclusive Citizenship Dialogues in Abu-Dhabi at the same time.
ADYAN embraced the Lebanese uprising of October 17th, 2019 since its day one. In fact, it thinks the demonstrators' belief in their role and ability to participate in public life, based on the common good, and not on sectarian and bigoted interests, is an on ground embodiment of the active and inclusive citizenship, which it has been advocating for, for years.
In partnership with the Egyptian Coptic Evangelical Organization, and Danmission, from Denmark, ADYAN has trained prominent media, religious, political, educational and religious figures from Egypt, Syria, Lebanon and Denmark to become "Leaders for Religious Understanding". These leaders work to improve relations for religious and social integration, conflict and reconciliation. 30 to 40 persons graduate annually from this programme.
In cooperation with the Anna Lindh Euro-Mediterranean Foundation for Dialogue of Cultures, ADYAN expanded its regional work to Mauritania, Morocco, Tunisia, Algeria, Libya, Palestine, and Jordan in addition to Lebanon, Syria, Iraq and Egypt, also working for societies free of gender based violence. The project resulted in an Arab approach to the concept of Intercultural Citizenship. Trained educators, educational policy makers and religious leaders developed a toolkit on the concept. It works also with experts from France, Britain, Belgium, Greece and Austria on the concepts of intercultural citizenship education and coexistence.
In view of the escalation of the Syrian crisis, ADYAN has launched the "Syrian Solidarity Project : Building Resilience and Reconciliation Through Peace Education" program. This is an ongoing process offering psychological and educational support to child refugees in Lebanon as well as internally displaced people in Syria itself. They are divided into three age groups: 6-9, 10-12 and 13-15. The programme trains educators and is being implemented in schools in Beirut, Tripoli and Sidon, as well as affiliated centres in Homs, Syria. ADYAN has started working with religious readers to counter extremism and resist the use of violence in the name of religion, keeping in mind the importance of preserving the diverse Syrian social framework.
In December 2019, ADYAN took part, beside 2,000 global change-makers, in the Global #RefugeeForum, the first meeting about refugees of this kind. Earlier in November, it has also contributed to the Declaration of Pledges of Faith-based Organizations for the Global Refugee Forum, which defines the social responsibility of these organizations in serving the common good and protecting the human dignity of all.
ADYAN's work and expertise has been recognized internationally. Its ALWAN program was described by the UN as an international model for "Living Together Peacefully in a Diverse World", and was awarded the second prize worldwide in 2013.
In November 2019, ADYAN received the Honourable mention of #GlobalPluralismAward at a ceremony in Ottawa, Canada, with the presence of his Highness the Agha Khan.
ADYAN has many international partners including the Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the UK government (Arab Partnership Initiative), Anna Lindh foundation, American Embassy in Beirut and Middle East Partner Iniative (MEPI), Development and Peace – Canada through Catholic Relief Services, Oeuvre d'Orient (France), Konrad Adenauer Stiftung (Germany), Missio (Germany).