Who should prevent violent extremism?
WHERE exactly is the front line against extremist vio lence these days? Syria and Iraq? Mosques? Classrooms? Family dining tables? In one global forum after another on terrorism, that’s a question many world leaders seem to be asking. In April, for example, the UN Security Council held a discussion that highlighted different views on ways to counter “the narratives and ideologies” of terrorists. In May, at the Group of Seven summit, leaders cited “critical gaps” in efforts against extremist violence.
Despite military progress against Al Qaeda and ISIS, the new emphasis is on ways to impede radicalisation, especially of young people. In January, UN Secretary General Ban Ki- moon launched a “Plan of Action to Prevent Violent Extremism.” And the US State Department has started a “Global Engagement Centre” to work with private groups “who can help address key factors that drive radicalisation.” Preventing people from turning into violent extremists has become as important as destroying terrorist groups. “Unless we address the circumstances in which radicalisation and terrorism thrive, we will always be fighting a rearguard action against it,” said Theresa May, Britain’s Home Secretary, in February. A leading think- tank on terrorism, the Rand Corp., finds that a country’s open and inclusive politics can help keep many young people from being tempted to join a radical group. And, as one Rand study concluded, a young person’s family is more influential than peers in dampening any tendency to become a terrorist. “We should approach efforts to reduce radicalisation among youth in much the same way we work to prevent other problems such as underage drinking and gang recruitment,” said Rand researcher Kim Cragin. One good example of a private, grassroots effort to reach young Muslims is a group called Teachers Against Violent Extremism. Founded by Ayub Mohamed, a business teacher in the Kenyan capital of Nairobi, it has trained more than 100 teachers on ways to conduct classroom discussions with high school students aimed at safeguarding them against the recruitment tactics of terrorist groups like al- Shabab. Preventing radicalisation, says Mr. Mohamed, is the responsibility of everyone in a community. That is exactly the conclusion many world leaders are reaching. — The Christian Science Monitor