Non-profit foundations to honour leaders and activists fighting extremism

Ceremony in New York will pay tribute those on frontlines of battle against extremism around world

A Carabinieri (Italian paramilitary) officer patrols the area next to Villa Igiea, the site of an international conference on Libya, in Palermo, Italy, Monday, Nov. 12, 2018. A gathering of leaders of Libya's quarrelling factions and of countries keen on stabilizing the North African nation is taking place Sicily. It aims to find a political settlement that would bolster the fight against Islamic militants and stop illegal migrants crossing the Mediterranean to Europe's southern shores. (AP Photo/Antonio Calanni)

Community activists working to tackle extremism, intolerance and hate speech will be honoured as the Global Hope coalition holds its annual award ceremony on Thursday.

The event, taking place amid the UN General Assembly’s 74th session in New York, will commend leaders for their stance against ISIS-affiliated groups operating in the Sahel and the Middle East.

The top accolade will be the 2019 Hero Awards, presented to an Italian carabinieri police unit, along with four people, for “their courageous stance and innovative solutions” to the threats posed by extremism, xenophobia and hate speech.

“It’s time to recognise the key contribution and indispensable role being played by local heroes, the men and women who often take risks to oppose extremism, promote cultural heritage and promote harmonious relations in their communities,” said Deborah Lehr, US president of the Global Hope Coalition group of four foundations.

Waleed El Ansary, Adama Dieng, Leah Pisar, Bushra Hyder and Enver Yucel have also been named in the 2019 awards.

The Global Hope Coalition was founded in 2016 by a group of former world leaders and philanthropists to empower those on the frontline of the fight against extremism and intolerance.

“No amount of high-level government decisions, international co-ordination, and billion-dollar programmes will be able to defeat the scourge of our times, violent extremism in all its manifestations, without the crucial contribution of the frontline activist,” said Abe Radkin, the group's international co-ordinator.

“We are trying to create partnerships and mobilise resources that can help shift the balance of power in these communities."

Among those previously honoured by the group are former president of Iraq Muhammad Masum, Malian president Ibrahim Keita and former US first-lady Laura Bush.