High Level Discussion on Children and Youth affected by violent extremism
Brief summary of presentation of information made
- Context specifics are important. Different factors contribute to radicalization in different regions
- Middle East – factors contributing –Peer racism, Palestinian/Israeli conflict,
- Europe – violent extremist profile – born in Europe, 2nd or 3rd generation since immigration, criminal past and linked with organized criminal networks, uses networks for movement
- Africa drivers – poverty, loss of civic values, proliferation of weapons, fragile states with unsecured borders.
- Increased international efforts are needed to protect young people from exploitation by radical groups.
Panel 1: Prevention of Radicalisation
Radicalisation is the process of moving towards an extreme view not adopted by the majority. Violent Extremism is a point of view that endorses and leads to violent conduct
Main drivers include:-
- Social exclusion
- Destruction of hope (often linked to socioeconomic factors)
- Access for people with extreme views
- Lure of ideology that is channeled politically
- Personal needs for belonging and entertainment
- Impact of exposure to violence
Ways to protect from radicalization include:-
- Influence the first circle of people around the child (parents, family, peers)
- Support for this group
- Provision of nurturing environment (education, health, finance)
- Building a positive identity with access to participate in the community
- Faith leaders to combat corruption of religion by emphasizing whole revelation not selected verses
- Shaping of heroes
- Meeting children where they are in their preferred communication methods- games using IT
- Restriction of access for extremists
- Reducing exposure to violence (actual, TV, games etc)
Responsibility of parents and communities to protect from radicalization but must be supported by Govt, including provision of opportunity, and movement towards equality and inclusion.
Recognition that some cultures strengthen radicalization and detention of returning extremists may not improve but could worsen the radicalization process. (Does not mean no monitoring or deradicalisation process)
Panel 2: From Radicalisation to Violent Extremist
Poor understanding of the attraction of extremism but suggestions include
- Promise of a better model for life ‘endorsed by God’
- Perception of present being ‘unfair’
- Better pay and mobility
- Revenge and/or redemption
- Opportunity for humanitarian action
- Perception of present as ‘unfair’
- Community support
- Freedom to express fully their Muslim faith
For both the deceptively simple message that the only way to be a good Muslim is to join the violent extremist group (can be same for other faiths)
Ways of addressing include:-
- Comprehensive engagement (to address multiplicity of root causes)
- Present a changed narrative of builders for peace rather than drivers of conflict
- Integration without requiring loss of faith distinctives such as change of dress and prayer habits
- Structural change to allow participation in political dialogue as an alternative to violence
- Resources to support parents/teachers/leaders to recognize and combat radicalization (much more likely to approach civil society than judicial /security personnel for help)
- Reduction of polarisation to extremes as seen by the polarisation involved in various political campaigning
- De-stigmatisation of communities
- Investment in youth to promote healthy development (15-30 year age group least funded age)
- Education with an emphasis on security, peace and political dialogue to end conflict
- Use of effective messengers – religious leaders or reformed extremists depending on audience. More radicalised respond better to reformed extremists, non radicalised to faith leaders
- Create alternatives for those wishing to return from combat other than prison
What was of particular significance to share with The Salvation Army globally?
The causes of radicalization are multiple but include social isolation and a perception of social injustice, that is often based in reality. This is compounded when faith is presented from a distorted perspective based on a few selected verses from sacred texts rather than as a complete revelation.
This is not just applicable to Islam but to other faiths too, including Christianity.
The radical ethic of love for God and one’s neighbor needs to be paramount in us as individuals, and as a church, and which is echoed in our words and behavior.