Tackling violent radicalization by counter-propaganda, inclusive governance, advancing democracy


Amid terror threats and continued travel by young people to and from Syria, the European Commission wants to help EU countries to tackle violent radicalization, EU Observer reports:

The EU executive presented on Tuesday (14 June) a communication with propositions to extend current programs in education, social inclusion, counter-propaganda, cooperation with third countries or addressing radicalization in prisons.

EU home affairs commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos said that “promoting freedom, democracy, human dignity and respect” were the way to reach out to young people and prevent them from turning to violent extremism. .. It says it will establish a network of people from various backgrounds, such as entrepreneurs, artists, sportspersons, as well as formerly radicalized people….

[But] the commission’s proposals are the continuation of a decade-old strategy, with “no questioning of the way the problem and the solutions are considered,” said Francesco Ragazzi, a lecturer at the university of Leyden, Netherlands, and associate fellow at SciencesPo in Paris.

Instead of focusing on local communities and civil society, Ragazzi said, policies should focus on how police and intelligence services work.

“Almost all those who committed terror attacks were already known”, he said. “We already know who are the next terrorists, we don’t need civil society.”

But empowering local communities is vital to combatting Islamic State, President Obama said today.

“Even as we continue to destroy ISIL militarily, we’re addressing larger forces that have allowed these terrorists to gain traction in parts of the world,” he said. “With regard to Iraq, this means helping Iraqis stabilize liberated communities and promote inclusive governance so ISIL cannot return.”

The president also dismissed criticisms that the administration was neglecting the ideological roots of recent terrorist attacks, suggesting that the conflation of the religion of Islam with violent ideology of radical Islamists was both misleading and counterproductive.

Soner Cagaptay of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy agrees the term “radical Islamic” is an incorrect way to refer to ISIS. “It is not an Islamic group. It does not represent Muslims, so I think it’s wrong to call it ‘radical Islamic.’ It’s a ‘radical Islamist’ group,” he tells NPR.

“When you say Islamic, you are talking about an adjective of Muslims, and when you say Islamism you are talking about an ideology, a dystopian ideology that tries to recruit from among Muslims,” Cagaptay says. “Obviously, these two things are extremely different.”

Mark Dubowitz, executive director of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, thinks it is correct to refer to Islamism, as distinct from Islam, but he insists that it’s important to describe “the nature of the ideology and the theology that is being used to mobilize and motivate these adherents to carry out these terrorist atrocities.”of the Washington Institute fo

Iraqi civil society must also press for the accountability of largely Shia militias, observers suggest.

As the Iraqi military moves to retake Fallujah from Daesh with support from volunteer militias and ahead of the offensive to dislodge Daesh from Mosul, the Iraqi government and the US-led anti-Daesh coalition should also press for accountability for Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF) — the name for the largely Shia volunteer forces, argues Human Rights Watch analyst Christoph Wilcke.

Only radically new thinking will help us find a way out of this mess, says SAIS’s András Simonyi.

This is a great moment for think tanks to step up to the plate, to come up with new ideas that will re-energize our tired elites,” he writes for The Hill. “Like it or not, our democracies are constructed in such a way that ultimately politicians will have to make decisions and come up with the solutions and the resources to combat terrorism from within and from the outside.”

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