Education versus Globalization of “Violent Extremism”

  • | Monday, 7 June, 2021
Education versus Globalization of “Violent Extremism”

         Many of the problems that we face lately at various levels emerged from “violent extremism,” a term that imposed itself on dialogues in early 2005 when the US government had little to show for three and a half years of its so-called global war on terror. Before this shift in 2005, the phrase ‘violent extremism' was rarely used in the public discourse communicated in English. Its usage was mainly in relation to the Far Right and neo-Nazism. But since 2005, it has become one of the key terms of the US counter-terrorism policy-making directed in particular at ‘radical Islam’. Thereafter, its use proliferated quickly and globally. The "terrorism” against which the United States declared war in the days after 9/11 was itself an ambiguous concept that had not been defined objectively. But the term “violent extremism” was even more nebulous.

The subsequent ascendancy of violent extremists and white supremacists in the USA and Europe has created something of a crisis of legitimacy, and they are for obvious reasons unattractive to the Far Right when they target anything other than ‘Muslim extremism’. These political dynamics have fractured the international consensus on combating violent extremism that emerged after ISIS declared that “it had established a ‘Caliphate’ in 2014.” Attention turned, above all, to concerns about a free-floating Islamist ideology that did not spread through institutional recruitment but through a radical process in which it captured the minds of the young and made them factors into the “violent extremism” game. Extremism was pictured as a virus, flowing from being something that plays on the emotions to radicalizing, then infecting and finally spreading.

 

       What unites most policies all over the world is that they aim to reduce violent extremism by using methods beyond military forces and the coercion available under criminal law. They usually aim to stop the emergence of violent extremism before it has fully manifested itself in a region or community by addressing the underlying factors of infiltration. Critically, an extremist is now someone who clings to a particular kind of ideology, even if he was not involved in any group or movement, with this ideology being perceived as the underlying cause of terrorism.

       Regardless of the definitions mentioned above, in my point of view “violent extremism” in its global dimension has two special qualities: first, the ability to fluctuate in different cultures; and second is its ability to adapt to changes of circumstances. These two characteristics are factors that enable that kind of baseless thinking to stabilize. Thus, to confront these ideologies, we should try stopping these viral global concepts from spreading on the two levels: institutionally and individually. Building upon this view, preventing extremism needs to be adopted in the whole world through something which can be spread globally. The key is in spreading anti-terrorism knowledge, primarily through the education systems, then through publicized cultural instruments like theatres and cinemas. Through stakeholders like media suppliers and investors in academic institutions, such re-education programs should form an integral part of the anti-extremism policies, thereby providing the much needed psycho-social angle to an otherwise hard security-driven discourse.

The confrontation process should be adopted individually as well. When a comparison was held between the strategies of adaptation used by the terrorist groups and the strategies of the existing educational policies, we found that there is an extreme difference. The adaptation process in the terrorist groups is much better as indicated by their use of the term “lone wolves” to adapt the shift in terrorist activities. They used the term to attract new members who suffer from abnormal psychologies or who are unpleased with their government amidst poor educational adaptation. Activities like participating in the political committees should be held in schools, allowing students to air their views and talk about their ambitions. Other groups of students may be encouraged to create and publicize some slogans against terrorism. For example, terms opposite to “lone wolves” like “destruction fighters” or “courageous knights” may be envisioned and adopted. It is evident that terrorism has found a spot in the contemporary world. However, if proper understanding of the trends of terrorism is reached, then solutions will manifest themselves.

 

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