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Changing the Narrative: Introducing New Speaker Suleiman Bakhit
Social Change | October 14, 2015

Changing the Narrative: Introducing New Speaker Suleiman Bakhit

New Lavin keynote speaker Suleiman Bakhit is a CVE (Countering Violent Extremism) and heroism narratives expert. His groundbreaking work focuses on countering prevailing narratives of what it means to be a hero in the Middle East. To Bakhit, violent ideology—terrorism—cannot be stamped out with more bloodshed, bombs, or air strikes. Instead, the most effective anti-terrorist act is to simply provide an alternative story: one that reaches Arab youth effectively, but provides an enriching message of hope, tolerance, equality, and service to others.

Bakhit’s most powerful CVE initiative so far was the creation of Aranim Media Factory, which sold 1.2 million comic books in Jordan, a country of 6 million people—a massive achievement. With titles like Element Zero (featuring an Arab James Bond) and Princess Heart (a modern spin on 1,001 Nights), Bakhit was not only creating gorgeous, exciting, and affordable narratives for Arab youth, but books filled with homegrown heroes who extolled positive, optimistic, and empowering messages.

Since then, he’s brought his message to the White House CVE Summit, the World Economic Forum, the United Nations CVE Summit, and the Oslo Freedom Forum. In his talks, he traces the psychological and mythic origins of harmful ideologies—those that glorify violence, xenophobia, and toxic masculinity—and highlights the vital role of storytelling in every healthy culture. In the war for Muslim youth, changing the narrative is absolutely essential—and Bakhit offers an ingenious model to do so.

In a recent interview with VICE, Bakhit shared an optimistic take on overcoming problems in the Arab world. “Approximately 50 percent of the Middle East is under 15; 62 percent of Muslims are under 30. With such a young population we can actually effect serious change within three to five years,” he said. “It just won’t be governments that do it; governments aren’t good at communicating. But they can enable us—civil society and social entrepreneurs who can really make a difference. And we’re ready.”

If you’re ready to hear more about Bakhit’s revolutionary approach to countering violent extremism, he’s now available for keynotes and other speaking engagements.

To hire Suleiman Bakhit for your next event, contact The Lavin Agency speakers bureau.
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