Revitalizing Efforts in Preventing Violent Extremism

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Experts from Norway, Lebanon, and Egypt called for revitalized efforts to combat violent extremism in the current context of multilayered crises. The call was made during a webinar entitled “Countering Violent Extremism During Times of Crises,” hosted by IPI MENA on November 30th.

Moderating the panel, IPI MENA Director Nejib Friji, pointed to recommendations from IPI’s key report, the Independent Commission on Multilateralism (ICM), particularly the “need for concerted multilateral approaches in developing a new narrative to neutralize and dilute extremist ideologies.”

“Such narratives can be developed by a new task force or ad hoc committee comprising religious leaders, individuals from civil society and the private sector, and, above all, youth actors from around the globe,” he stressed.

In her opening remarks, IPI MENA Research Intern Eliza Cheah reiterated the crucial role of education, the need to leverage the use of new and traditional media, as well as the inclusion of youth and women in tackling violent extremism. She said that we “as a global community, must take a dynamic and multilateral approach that matches the fluidity of extremism. An approach that involves the whole of societies, in order to counter and ultimately prevent violent extremism.”

Professor Fadi Daou (Lebanon), Chairperson and CEO of Adyan (Religions) Foundation, underlined his entity’s “theory of change” analysis as a method that informs on their practice and implementation of PCVE policies. “The best result is when you provide isolated individuals who are vulnerable to extremism, with the capacity to influence their societies, to become change-makers,” he stated, while highlighting the impact of the ongoing global public health crisis on vulnerable communities and the new types of challenges that actors across all levels are facing.

Dr. Cathrine Thorleifsson, (Norway), Researcher at the Centre for Research on Extremism, University of Oslo, pointed to the role of digital subcultures in driving the new pattern of right-wing extremism, which has gradually increased on the global level. She highlighted the challenges governments face when forming policies to counter anonymous, leaderless, and transnational movements in the online realm. “In the next 10 years, we will see much more cyber-governance incorporated between states and tech companies in the online space,” Dr. Thorleifsson projected.

Ms. May Salem, (Egypt) Program Manager at Cairo Regional Center for Conflict Resolution and Peacekeeping in Africa, elaborated on how COVID-19 has affected global terrorism trends, and how these trends have been manifesting in the African context. She provided case studies of the different approaches taken by terrorist groups toward the pandemic. “It is imperative to invest in prevention [of violent extremism] and shift toward a resilience paradigm,” she stressed.

IPI MENA Policy Analyst, Ms. Dalya Al Alawi emphasized the need to incorporate, build, and reinforce gendered frameworks towards the development of any PCVE strategies and policies. “Frameworks can be created for collaboration between civil society, national and international NGOs that link to good practices led by women and women’s organizations at the local level,” she stated. She pointed to several grass-root women-led interfaith organizations that target radicalized youth through religion and education as key examples of women’s vital roles in building communities’ resilience against extremism.