Ideas Beyond Borders sponsored the first critical thinking workshop in my hometown

Author: Omar Atatfa

With the variation and multiplicity of sources of information and ideologies, ease of access to social media, and the conventional and extremist ideologies lurking around the corner, the need for critical thinking skills becomes a must.

However, in Iraq, it is not something taught in schools or universities despite the urging need for such skills. Realizing this gap, IBB jumped in to do all that is possible in multiple places in Iraq, exploiting the youth’s desire to differ and excel. The project started with Babylon and Najaf and the plan is to reach as many cities as possible. The main goal is to fight extremism, pinpoint misinformation, and help Iraqi youth cope with the modern world. One of the main reasons why IBB seeks to implement the ideas of critical thinking in Iraqi youth’s minds is to prevent extremist ideologies from taking over.

In war-torn Iraq where these types of ideologies keep looking for new young brains to wash, IBB saw it as a challenge to fight back and to enable the young men and women of Iraq to be able to stand in the face of extremism wherever they may be found and spread awareness about the necessity of co-existence, tolerance, and respect for the difference of opinions. This shall help those youth become better leaders in the near future, replacing the traditional types of leaders who mostly depend on religious, sectarian, or tribal bases, leading to an inevitably corrupt system that favors certain social or political groups over others.



Misinformation is yet another major reason in IBB’s endeavor to build critical thinking for the Iraqi youth. Even though there is an independent project which currently works on fighting misinformation, the critical thinking workshops partly aim at enabling attendees to recognize embedded ideological orientations and biases in the information they are exposed to on a daily basis which lead to unfavorable consequences. In post-2003 Iraq, the corrupt governments which succeeded one another, and the extremist foreign-backed entities have been able to create their own media (TV channels, radio stations, social media pages, etc.) dispersing information that mainly serve their ideologies and affiliations. Hence, misinforming and/or disinforming the audience and reproducing and keeping power, resulting in a divided and distorted society.


The third reason which IBB sees as significant in enabling Iraqi youth’s ability to think critically is to help them cope with the modern world. Modern-day youth and orientations call for independence of thought and new ideas which result from challenging instilled conventional ways of thinking. Therefore, leaving Iraqi young women and men under the mercy of the politicized, corrupt, and biased ideologies resembles a massacre to the thought of those youth which IBB would not allow to happen. Moreover, in part of its vision to have Iraqi youth in touch with the world, and to enhance the vision of the world towards Iraq and its rich culture, and the people with their long-lasting civilization, IBB took it upon itself to raise the level of youth’s awareness through giving those practical and interactive workshops, helping the attendees challenge their old methods of thinking and seeing where the world is at in terms of critical thinking.



As such IBB aims to eliminate extremism, challenge misinformation, and introduce the Iraqi young generation to the world from a different positive perspective. All in all, this lies within the cornerstones of IBB’s principles to help the youth gain a different perspective of how the world is viewed through the scopes of respect, tolerance, and acceptance, and to point their fingers towards extremist views and biased or manipulating information and challenge them.


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