You face resistance in your effort to engage people for the sensitive task of counter-radicalisation. You feel like no one understands the challenges you face as a front line counter-radicalisation worker.
Why is it challenging to engage people for counter-radicalisation, counter extremism or even crime prevention? These subjects are stigmatising, controversial and have a shame-inducing emotional reaction. Shame and pain-based emotions do not encourage engagement. Instead, the subjects (individuals/groups) tend to disengage and distance themselves. Some might even have something to protect from you. For example, the individuals who already adopted certain extremist beliefs have their justifications and excuses for what they believe. They would stand by their version of the story and would even go against anyone who tries to convince them otherwise. So, you feel resistance when trying to moderate their narratives/convictions. However, your inspiration comes from the challenges you face. With your experience, you can develop solutions to succeed in helping others.
As an organisation that works on counter-radicalisation, you have all the good intentions: to save young people from going down the path of violent radicalisation; protect communities from the message of extremists; build resilience in the grassroots. These intentions are perfect, and anyone would say so. However, only you know how often these good intentions backfire when putting into practice. Your assumptions and good intentions might not be enough to navigate the sensitivity issues that affect individuals who are at risk of violent radicalisation.
Think about it, in counter-radicalisation/counter-extremism, we fight the blight of division sowed by extremists to divide and set people against each other. For this, extremists highlight differences, not the similarities of human experience. Can you do the same in countering violent radicalisation? The answer is simple: a strategy that is based on exclusive differences would not work but tends to backfire in counter-radicalisation campaigns. You know this by experience, that’s where your inspiration comes to fine tune your campaigns.
As a researcher, student or expert in violent radicalisation or terrorism, the challenges you face seem insurmountable. These subjects attract objections, disputes, and well-experienced sensitivity issues. Above all, you can be accused of trying to legitimise state agendas or victimise certain communities. The challenge of studying terrorism and related subjects could feel like a lonely place where all your good intentions can be subjected to not one but many forms of accusations. Remember, you know well that it is not possible to escape the in-built dilemma of terrorism and political violence: ‘one person's terrorist is another person's freedom fighter’.
How would you find common grounds that would not alienate certain people in the good cause in studying violent radicalisation and terrorism? Your contribution would rarely benefit if you are based on the same platform that terrorists/violent extremists are based on, i.e, creating divisions and alienating people. You get the point, let’s start your work.
As a parent, friend or colleague, you might have worried and asked this question yourself: how do I protect my loved ones, friends, colleagues from violent radicalisation? What would I do to stop them from believing violent extremist ideas? As you know better, the answer is not simple. It is not easy to convince otherwise if someone started to believe the messages of hate and division. You take great risks in trying to oppose them. In such scenarios, opposing is not appealing enough to make any difference in the belief of a person who started to embrace violent extremist ideas.
However, what else you could do? Think about it. You can promote beliefs that are appealing enough to prevent individuals from resorting to violent extremism? Rather than worrying, you can be passionate about solutions.
You might have asked yourself, how and why do individuals resort to violence, often being compelled by religious or political beliefs; and under what circumstances this would happen? You want to dig deeper and understand the motives of violent radicalisation. You are passionate about preventing violent radicalisation in your neighbourhood, community, and the wider world. Radical-R understands your passion and is dedicated to providing you with the resources and guides to succeed.