Freedom of Religion and Belief (FoRB) is a sensitive topic across the Middle East and North Africa (MENA). In some countries, FoRB is severely restricted, and certain laws and practices are used to prohibit expression by religious minorities, non-believers, Muslims from a sect different to the majority, and those who publish critical reflection on religion.  

Furthermore, the rise in hate speech and subsequent violence during the past two years, especially in light of the COVID-19 pandemic and the deterioration of the economic situation in many countries in the region, necessitates an overall awareness of the real meaning of FoRB. Because some perceive it as a ‘foreign’ concept, it is important to use a narrative that is accepted and understood by all.  

To address these issues, in 2019 – 2020 Adyan ran a ‘FoRB Training of Trainers in Arabic’ project, which involved capacity building of 50 FoRB trainers across the MENA, and a FoRB course tailored specifically for journalists. This project builds on this earlier work, expanding it to new target groups and geographical regions. The project will empower a network of diverse FoRB promoters across the MENA region and in Arabic-speaking communities in the West, who will be equipped and supported with FoRB knowledge and capacity gained via courses and peer-to-peer learning.  

This strengthened network will then cascade their FoRB knowledge to wider communities, leading to increased understanding of FoRB issues across diverse groups. The FoRB promoters will come from a wide variety of countries, faith backgrounds and professions, to ensure that FoRB messages reach diverse segments and levels of society. Targeted participants will include trainers, activists, religious leaders, artists and policymakers. The network built by the targeted participants across the MENA region will become a community of practice, via which graduates can share knowledge, experiences and practices to better foster FoRB in their respective communities. This network will meet online regularly in order to share experiences, knowledge, challenges, and opportunities related to the promotion of FoRB. 


Pluralism and Justice, Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions, Partnerships for the Goals


FoRB promoters and participants


July 2021 – July 2024


MENA region

Impact and Outcomes

Impact: Arabic-speaking communities have increased understanding and respect for complex issues related to FoRB

Outcome 1: 150 FoRB promoters in Arabic-speaking societies are empowered to conduct FoRB training within their communities, using gained knowledge and skills related to FoRB

Outcome 2: A regional network of 200 FoRB promoters across the MENA region and in Arabic-speaking communities in the West share knowledge and experiences, using online communications

Outcome 3: Increased awareness of FoRB issues and the work of the network, via the public dissemination of three short films



Ana Maria DaouActing Director of The Institute of Citizenship & Diversity Management

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