AUN Students Launch Digital Campaign to Challenge Extremism in Nigeria

Students of the American University of Nigeria, AUN, on Thursday launched a digital campaign, tagged #IAmABeliever2 to challenge extremism in the country.

The #IAmABeliever2 campaign seeks to promote religious tolerance and mutual understanding between Muslims and Christians in Nigeria, by acknowledging and valuing all beliefs equally, even though they are different.  The campaign highlights the importance and beauty of all beliefs, and the shared space that comes from acknowledging the religious other as a believer in his/her own right.

The students, under the team name, WAVE (Women Against Violent Extremism), are targeting women and young girls in a bid to empower and inspire them to take a stand against violent extremism and not be passive victims of the crises.

The #IAmABeliever2 campaign will be based mainly online, and will harness the power and exponentiality of social media in Nigeria to take its message of hope and tolerance to all parts of the country.

As part of the digital strategy, the team is using the web-application, Beliepedia (www.beliepedia.org), which creates a shared space where Biblical and Qur’anic texts interact on often-dissonant questions.  The site has provisions for users to comment and engage with the topics and texts.

The team also announced a national essay and arts competition for secondary schools students, to create awareness and promote religious tolerance and stem a growing tide of religious intolerance in the country.  

Creative Director of the team, Ms Ebiuwairo Uwagboe, said at the conference that the team decided to target women based on its research findings as well as the vulnerability of women in the ongoing crisis. “We felt the need to do this because it is young girls like them that have been snatched from their mothers and fathers, kidnapped, married off and used as suicide bombers. Women have to take a stand in challenging violent extremism, so that they no longer have to suffer as victims or as tools of this insurgency”.

The students are carrying out this campaign as participants in the Peer to Peer Facebook Global Digital Challenge, an international inter-university competition which gets students from hundreds of universities around the world to challenge hateful and extremist narratives through the power of social media.  The competition, which is held every semester is sponsored by Facebook and managed by EdVenture Partners. AUN students enrolled in the course, CMD 412 (Public Diplomacy & Strategic Media Intervention) launched the first phase of the #IAmABeliever campaign last year and went on to win first place at the maiden edition of the African Regional Finals in Ghana.