On April 7th in Skopje, the Macedonian TACSO office in cooperation with the Delegation of the European Union organised seminar on Preventing violent extremism. Representatives of approximately 30 civil society organisations (CSOs) had opportunity to hear the presentation and to discuss with professor Tahir Abbas from Royal United Services Institute from London. Professor Abbas spoke about the origin of violent extremism, its different forms and the possibilities for prevention of violent extremism.
In the opening session, Mr. Jaromir Levicek from the Delegation of the European Union informed that the European Union provides financial support for combating extremism. Besides regional calls, EU will allocate some of the funds available for the country for financial support to CSOs working on this issue.
The factors that motivate violent extremism and the social and political aspects of terrorism were covered in the thematic part of the seminar. Professor Abbas emphasized that there is no agreed definition of violent extremism, that each instance of violence is unique and it can be associated with different motivating factors, however, most frequently the basis is the feeling of endanger, repression, the wish to change something, to get recognition, status, belonging.
Often, behind some cases of violent extremism there is a legitimate goal. The professor believes that we already live in a culture of violence and one violent act inevitably leads to another one, and extremism becomes part of the mainstream of society including the politics.
Thus, violence often becomes a mean to achieve some political or ideological goal. Further on, it was discussed about the ways in which ISIS mobilizes people, the use of social media for mobilizing people and the fact that young people are particularly in danger.
It was differentiated between the nature of violent extremism in the western developed societies, which is mainly associated with minority communities and the issue of identity, as opposed to the violent extremism in the countries of Africa and Asia that are facing deep development problems, where the problems originate from the colonialism and are related with genocide, ethnic competition, tribes.
Therefore, the prevention of terrorism should depend on the context. In the last part of the seminar, it was discussed about the prevention of violent extremism, the global paradigm that implies an attempt to understand the problems and to find adequate way to address them. It was debated whether it functions having in mind that there are no sufficient data from monitoring and evaluation that can prove the results.
The participants actively debated in the discussions, giving many examples from their operation about activities that can assist in preventing violent extremism and giving ideas for addressing the issue. They assessed the seminar as very useful emphasizing that they acquired knowledge on the topic. Additionally they pointed out that besides financial support, there is a need for further capacity building and specialized trainings in the area.