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Towards an effective de-radicalisation strategy

Jul 15,2018 - Last updated at Jul 15,2018

The challenge of radicalisation, religious or otherwise, remains a major challenge not only in the region, but also for our internal politics and public policies. Despite the lack of clarity over the issue of radicalisation at the national level because of over-politicisation of directing and channeling counter and de-radicalisation funds, we ought to move beyond politics over radicalisation to the politics and policies of countering radicalisation. We cannot afford to allow more young people to slip into the racks of radicalisation while playing hardball.

Internally, de-radicalisation is a top issue for stakeholders, government and donors alike, and there have been numerous workshops and conferences to address the issue and propose solutions to it. While these conferences and workshops are worthy for awareness, concrete action on-the-ground in our communities needs to occur.

Unlike macro-scale, micro-scale interventions, where donors have sought to fund government economic programmes and specific ministries, have proven rather effective and have greater potential to sway youth away from radicalisation. Henceforth, micro programmes should be funded directly at community organisations level and not through government intermediaries and ministries, where bureaucracy may challenge implementation for various reasons, chief among them the politics of competition over allocation of scarce resources. 

The concept of conditional funding, whereby certain projects may be funded specifically based on geographical location, type and quality of intervention, is essential to make sure that communities in most need are targeted and benefitting from de-radicalisation funds. 

Education is also a key channel to build a process of cultural change. The current Prime Minister Omar Razzaz, in his capacity as former minister of education, has initiated a successful process of change, but it is important to make sure that this change is part of a state long-term strategy rather an ad hoc. A comprehensive strategy to change curricula is now one of the first steps in education reform that is desperately needed. Curricula and textbooks must begin to focus on human civic values and insist on embracing the aspects of pluralism, tolerance and diversity. Just as important are the teachers who are implementing the curricula, whose responsibility it is to emphasise and instill these values. It is important not to forget that the moment the doors of the classroom are closed, the teacher is the one who decides what to teach, so those who understand the importance of this need for change and who will address societal risks and challenge norms need to be sought out. Schools must also become a place where children and teens excel beyond academic content by delving into sport, art and other non-academic activities, including fostering hobbies and imagination.

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