Saudi head of the new media department of the King Abdul Aziz Centre for National Dialogue (KACND), Ali al-Shehri (C), speaks with staff members on February 17, 2016, in the capital Riyadh. AFP / FAYEZ NURELDINE
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Two Saudi boys, one Sunni, another Shiite, push their desks together and sit side-by-side smiling in a classroom.These scenes were featured in a YouTube video posted online in November for a Saudi center, funded under an endowment from the late King Abdullah, that is making a push on social media to counter Islamist extremism.Saudi Arabia, one of the world's most conservative nations, has long been accused of fueling extremism but Saudi authorities say they are working to counter extremist messages, and the Riyadh-based King Abdul Aziz Center for National Dialogue has intensified efforts to promote tolerance.Its latest effort saw 128 entries in a contest that offered 150,000 riyals ($40,000) divided among the five best producers of short films promoting national unity and tolerance, and opposing extremism.Shiites make up roughly 10 percent of Saudi Arabia's population and have long complained of marginalization.
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