Salman Majeed joined social media group formed under Peace through ArtsSalman Majeed project, and later developed interest in theater as well. He was a test case for Bedari. Among over 100 youths participating in ‘Peace through Arts’ project, he was the one most actively involved with extremist organizations. He would be at the forefront of the rallies chanting ‘kafir kafir’ slogans. A heated debate had taken place within Bedari staff whether we should let such an extremist be part of this project. The final decision was made in favor of including him, and taking him as a test case. He was the guy who would help us measure the success of the project.
He tells us, “Before joining extremist groups, I was very good in my studies. I passed all my exams with distinction. However, my studies suffered as I got involved with extremist groups, and started participating in various activities”.
When asked why he joined extremist groups, he told us, “I was shown a video of how a Muslim was killed, and his dead body was dragged in the streets by people of another sect in a nearby town. I was enraged at the cruelty. I wanted to avenge that”.
About the change in his personality, he says, “I thought peace would prevail when everybody would convert to one sect. But here in Bedari, I learnt that diversity is something to cherish; that peace is possible without painting everyone green. It is a great lesson; I would never forget that, rather I would keep propagating it in my neighborhood and wherever I go”.
His mother had her own misgivings, “I was seriously worried about him. His behavior changed, his way to communicate with me changed, his relationship with me changed. He would shy away from my touch. He thought it was not all right for me to hug him. He seemed so confused. Then, we came to know that he had joined some extremist group; his activities had raised many eyebrows. Even police had warned my husband about our son’s activities, but we were unable to convince him to leave all that.”.
She was extremely happy with Bedari’s project, “you people have done what we could not do. We had tried every method – love, affection, discussion, persuasion, threats – but none worked. I had lost my son. You people have brought my son back to me. I can never thank you enough”.
Bedari believes that it is very important to engage youth in cultural/artistic activities or sports to keep them away from extremist groups. Salman Majeed has proved us right.