Harnessing the power of digital media tools to prevent the radicalisation of vulnerable youth
In Europe today there are a wide range of situations and circumstances where extremist narratives have emerged as powerful and destructive tools used by religious fanatics, terrorists and those espousing radical political views to radicalize vulnerable youth. Indeed, it is clear that the range of situations and circumstances where radicalization can occur increases with every economic downturn; every incident of racial hatred or homophobic abuse; every new migrant or refugee crisis.
The CONCORDIA Project consortium comprises 8 partners representing 8 Member States. It is led by Jugendförderverein Parchim/Lübz e.V. from Germany who are supported by Asociatia pentru Educatie si Dezvoltare Durabila from Romania; Die Kärntner Volkshochschulen from Austria; Centrum inspirace from the Czech Republic; Future In Perspective from Ireland; Etudes Et Chantiers Corsica from France; SYNTHESIS Centre for Research and Education from Cyprus and Innoventum Oy from Finland.
While it is widely accepted that teenage years can be a particularly hard time for some young people in the vast majority of cases issues that arise are of a transient nature and the young people in question with appropriate supports successfully negotiate the pitfalls. For a small minority these challenges persist and are often further exacerbated by a lack of positive role models and feelings of alienation from their peer group. For this cohort of vulnerable youth the path to an inclusive and rewarding life can be somewhat obscured. Educational under-achievement most often leads to social exclusion and multi-faceted disadvantage and in a small number of cases young adolescents on the margins of society and economy are being attracted to extremist groups enticed by the false promises of Neo-Nazi or “Islamic State” ideologies.
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It is a non-governmental organization that studies globalism and the impact of extremist and radical phenomena throughout Europe, and that advises and intervenes in processes of de-radicalization and anti-extremist initiatives.
Greece, on the one hand, has been part of the FATF (Financial Action Task Force), which would be a Financial Action Group. The FATF is an intergovernmental organization that fights the financing of terrorism. The organization recommended the adoption of several measures for the country:
1) Criminalization of the financing of terrorism or any association related to extremist or radical groups.
2) Freezing of terrorist assets.
3) Policies designed exclusively to prevent terrorists from taking advantage of or exploiting non-governmental organizations.
On the other hand, Greece has a following of groups that share the objective of avoiding the financing of terrorist groups; such as the Investigation Authority against Money Laundering. The Authority consists of three units that include:
1) Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU)
2) Financial Sanctions Unit (FSU)
3) Funding Investigation Unit (SFIU)
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Due to the migratory flow, during the last decade, Greece has welcomed thousands of Muslim migrants. This, linked to the current political situation and the humanitarian and social crisis suffered by the European Union, has led to direct confrontations between various social groups.
One of them is the radicalized Muslim population, which in turn is associated with Islamic groups integrated into ISIS. Thus, the ELAS have developed a series of actions to mitigate the impact of radicalization in the prison centers, and to reduce and stop the number of Islamic radicalization groups. Among the actions that will take place, we find:
1) Training program for Greek police officers, customs guards, prison officers and immigration officers to understand the phenomenon of radicalization and locate terrorist elements within Muslim communities.
2) Monitor the use of the internet by captors and suspects who try to recruit people for the cause of ISIS.
3) Police program against radicalization in Greek prisons, emphasizing the vulnerability of inmates to be recruited or persuaded to join radical groups.
4) Specialized programs in de-radicalization within prisons, endowed with long-term sessions aimed at eliminating extremist ideologies and helping Muslim migrants to integrate into Greek society.
Since 2012, the political forces in Greece have been widening and expanding towards the strongest opposition, and the contrariety and discrepancy between two of the parties that have experienced the greatest boom due to the political crisis in the country: Golden Dawn (Golden Dawn) party of extreme right, patriotic and of anti-immigration policies, and SYRIZA, party of the radical left.
The main problem of this resurgence of parties so opposed and popular at the same time, has led to a series of violent events and clashes between supporters of both sides. To this, we must add the legitimacy of the Greek government that offers two great perspectives to enhance its position; the first is the crisis of migration policies, and the conspiracy theory of European policies against Greece.
All this has created a crack in the social fabric of the country, which harms coexistence and drastically changes the social and political life of its inhabitants. The strategies to adopt to get out of this violent situation, would consist of:
1) Creation of a pro-European and community narrative, independent of the current and dominant national ideology, that seeks to prevent the spread of extremism.
2) Urge the Greek government to take part in the Radicalization Awareness Network of the European Commission, with the aim of delegitimizing violent extremism.
3) Implementation of deradicalization practices, such as family counselling, that seek to alienate people from extremist groups and radical ideologies.