In a simple language; Violent Extremism can be understood by the use of “violence”… different types of violence in order to advocate for, support or to enable certain point-of-view of taking place or in another word; to become a reality by a violent force.
It is a good thing to have perseverance in supporting whatever we believe in but, when forcing, practicing and using violence on the other in order to make what we think of and believe in the ultimate truth of this world, then, the outcome would be violence practiced by one group against the other.
Today, the world is facing a relentless challenge related to “Violent Extremism” that is manifesting itself in endless format but with one consequence where human beings’ lives are affected as well as jeopardizing their dignity.
Unfortunately, the history is full of “violent” events that happened in the past and still until today, generations of human beings are still suffering the negative consequences of what happened in the past.
The choice we have today is the decision that we need to take; whether to make this world a safer and a better place for all or to continue the cycle of violence?… as violence and hate will only lead to more violence and hate.
Violent Extremism is a wide and a controversial topic that requires deeper and a “neutral” understanding. This time, this article will be covering who is who and doing what in order to stop and/or to prevent violent extremism worldwide. Below are listed projects and initiatives that are being implemented currently. The list varies between governmental programs, civil society organizations’ projects, and youth-led initiatives.
I Dare for Sustainable Development (Jordan) is running a pilot project in As-Salt city with the aim of building community resilience in order to Prevent Violent Extremism. I Dare’s project is designed based on Social Marketing; which is about positive community change behaviour. The intervention mix is based on a primary research done by the organization and it includes, a technical capacity building for youth and a hybrid online and offline campaign. IDare approach is focused on “prevention” and building alternative narratives. The below video shows part of the campaign 100 Questions on Violence.
Stop Violent Extremism #GlobalConsensus
The Madrid+10 initiative it is an initiative by Club de Madrid that aims to inform and empower stakeholders in the struggle against radicalization and violent extremism and the actions that governments and society must firmly and jointly undertake to effectively tackle this scourge while respecting democracy and the rule of law. Their campaign is based on the countering narrative of the propaganda by Daesh (ISIS). In addition to their efforts in bringing together different stakeholders in order to join efforts to combat violent extremism.
Counter violent extremism and radicalization that lead to terrorism an initiative by Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) by the Council of Europe. The initiative aims at showing that organizations operating under OSCE are standing together as one in countering violent extremism. The OSCE Secretary General and the OSCE Serbian Chairmanship have launched the “OSCE United in Countering Violent Extremism (#UnitedCVE)” campaign. The campaign is to rise to the challenge of responding to the corrosive appeal of violent extremism by promoting tolerance, mutual respect, pluralism, inclusion, and cohesion in targeted communities.
Living Safe Together (Australia) It is an initiative of the Australian government. It aims at building community resilience in Australia in order to combat violent extremism. Living Safe Together is focused on 5 main areas;
- Identify and divert violent extremists and, where possible, support them in disengaging from violent extremism.
- Identify and support at-risk groups and individuals to resist and reject violent extremist ideologies.
- Build community cohesion and resilience to violent extremism.
- Communicate effectively to challenge extremist messages and support alternative narratives.
- Communities, both through their own activities and in collaboration with government, play a vital role in achieving these objectives.
The UNESCO together with Mahatma Gandhi Institute of Education for Peace and Sustainable Development is releasing an educational initiative in order to counter violent extremism. The below video on “Global Citizenship Education to prevent violent extremism” explains how education can prevent violent extremism through equipping young people with the skills to dialogue, critical thinking, and meaningful engagement with others and their communities in order to build peaceful societies.
Counter Extremism Project The Counter Extremism Project (CEP) is a not-for-profit, non-partisan, international policy organization formed to combat the growing threat from extremist ideologies. Led by a renowned group of former world leaders and diplomats it combats extremism by pressuring financial and material support networks; countering the narrative of extremists and their online recruitment, and advocating for smart laws, policies, and regulations.
Violent extremist groups are spreading their ideology and recruiting support across the globe, posing a complex and urgent challenge that cannot be addressed by government alone. There is a responsibility for private groups and individuals to organize in opposition to extremists. To this end, CEP is:
- Assembling an extensive research and analysis database on extremist groups and their networks of support, providing an indispensable resource to governments, the media, NGOs and civil society organizations, and the general public;
- Exposing channels of financial and material support to extremist groups;
- Using the latest communications, social media, and technological tools to identify and reveal the extremist threat and directly counter extremist ideology and recruitment online; and
- Assisting policymakers around the world to devise legislation and regulations that effectively combat extremism.
One95 counter-narrative program unites young people around the world fighting against extremism. One95 was launched at the September 2015 Global Youth Summit Against Violent Extremism, co-hosted by CEP with support from the U.S. State Department and White House. One95 is an online networking, education, and funding hub for youth leaders, activists, and practitioners. One95 connects global youth working to combat extremism in their respective communities; provides basic educational tools to help young people learn about the dangers of extremism; and offers grants to help seed and/or scale-up outstanding youth-led, community-based counter-extremism concepts via the One95 Youth Innovation Fund.
People against Violent Extremism (PaVE) (Australia) is a Non-Government Organisation bringing community, research, and policy together to combat violent extremism. PaVE mission is to counter the notion that “violence is the answer”, especially when violent acts are aimed at innocent communities. Pave work falls into three sets of activities;
1) To enhance public awareness and understanding of violent extremism and how to counter it.
2) To identify research needs and conduct research into violent extremism.
3) To influence government policy direction.
Countering Violent Extremism (Pakistan) Centre for Pakistan and Gulf Studies is a non-partisan, independent think, which has been established to innovate future prospects for peace and security in the region and beyond through intellectual discourse and contribute to sustainable social, political and economic development. The center is running many initiatives (such as Salam Project) as part of their efforts towards preventing violent extremism.
Educate Against Hate (UK) an online platform aimed to Educate Against Hate and is the official HM Government resource for parents, teachers, and school leaders who require practical advice, information, and support on protecting children from radicalism and extremism. This website gives parents, teachers, and school leaders practical advice on protecting children from extremism and radicalisation. The website encompasses a number of good resources and educational material in order to aid communities in preventing violent extremism and to build community resilience.
FATE (Families Against Terrorism and Extremism), a family of organizations dedicated to bringing a better future by keeping families together. FATE welcomes and works together with charities and organizations looking to turn the tide of recruitment and take a stand against violent extremism.
Average Mohammad (USA) online campaign composed of series of videos delivering messages about what is Islam in an attempt to prevent violent extremism. These videos are targeted at the youth of Somali community in Minnesota state.
Hedayah aims to be the premier international center and operational platform for expertise and experience to counter violent extremism by promoting understanding and sharing of good practices to effectively serve as the true global center to counter violent extremism. Hedayah was created in response to the growing desire from members of the Global Counter-Terrorism Forum and the wider international community for the establishment of an independent, multilateral center. During the ministerial-level launch of the GCTF in New York in September 2011, the U.A.E offered to serve as the host of the International Center of Excellence for Countering Violent Extremism. In December 2012, Hedayah was inaugurated with its headquarters in Abu Dhabi, U.A.E.
Hedayah is devoted to dialogue and communications, capacity building programs, research, and analysis to counter violent extremism in all of its forms and manifestations.
#MyJihad (USA) Chicago-based organization and public education campaign, MyJihad, announces their condemnation of the extremist group, “ISIS” or “ISIL.”
Sawab Center is a joint initiative by the Governments of the United Arab Emirates and the United States in support of the multilateral Global Coalition against Daesh. Sawab also works with members of the Global Coalition around the world, as well as many other engaged individuals and organizations in order to counter Daesh propaganda as well as reveal its true criminal nature and intent.
Countering Violent Extremism (CVE) bring together an inclusive community to disrupt traditional approaches, define methodology gaps, & redefine future CVE opportunities.
The Youth Civil Activism Network (YouthCAN) is designed to upscale and optimize grassroots efforts to combat violent extremism of all forms. It connects a wide array of youth activists from around the world, including artists, tech entrepreneurs, civil society leaders, youth workers, filmmakers, cartoonists, students, and innovators. The network was launched to enable an ongoing and international exchange of practices and know-how, and to foster collaboration and co-creation among its members. Through the network, young people’s needs and views will also be represented to policymakers.
YouthCAN is a global network. First launched in Europe at the Youth Against Violent Extremism conference in Oslo in June 2015, the network has since expanded with Commonwealth YouthCAN, launched in Malta on 26th November 2015. The network currently hosts 652 members from over 102 countries and YouthCAN is looking to expand its reach even further to ensure all young people are represented.
RAN or Radicalisation Awareness Network is Fighting terrorism and violent extremism involves more than surveillance and security. The Radicalisation Awareness Network (RAN) brings together practitioners from around Europe working on the prevention of radicalisation.
The above efforts are varying in their strategies in tackling the issue of violent extremism; efforts are ranging between; against, combating, countering, and preventing violent extremism. Campaigns come in different types too, such as awareness raising style, informative campaigns, and countering campaigns. This is what we are having… efforts in this area were very much focused on “countering” violent extremism, but, then, all of those who are concerned on enabling sustainable peace and security, started to think of “to what extent such strategies would be effective?” that if we are only combating and countering, then, as if it means that we are in a “war” and this could even increase the intensity of violence when the other parties are “fighting” back in order to prove their point-of-views! then, it became more realistic to think of “preventive” approaches and to have “resilience” within the targeted communities as this sounds to be more effective and realistic. Accordingly, it is becoming more realistic to think of “preventive” approaches and to have “resilience” within the targeted communities as this sounds to be more effective and realistic. In the next article, we will be focusing more on analyzing some of the existing campaigns and which “alternative narrative(s)” we are building and contributing to if any. By Suha Ayyash