Stronger communities counter violent extremism — political scientist

Building strong communities is one way to curb violent extremism, focusing on preventing people from adopting radical stands that lead to violence, a political scientist said.


COUNTERING RADICALIZATION. Dr. Kenneth Christie, the program head of Human Security and Peacebuilding at the Royal Roads University in Canada discusses Radicalization in Southeast Asia at the University of the Philippines in Taguig, a forum organized by the Asean Society of the Philippines. Christie’s work is focused on issues of de-radicalization, terrorism, and human rights as well as democratization. (PNA photo by Joyce Ann L. Rocamora)

“I think what you have to do is build strong communities, de-radicalization and trying to counter-terrorism begins with building a strong community and that means building institutions where people feel safe,” visiting political scientist Dr. Kenneth Christie said in a recent interview with the Philippine News Agency (PNA).

During his lecture at the University of the Philippines on Radicalization in Southeast Asia, a forum organized by the Asean Society of the Philippines, Christie underscored the need to address the root causes of radicalization leading to violence and the involvement of communities during an intervention.

Some of the contributing factors to radicalization are media distortion, socio-economics, foreign policy, mental health and when the civilian in target has been “otherized” or being stigmatized as someone different, he said.

“We need to know how to devise policies, how to keep people within communities and devise a strategy to work with them and prevent this radicalization, it’s important all over the world as well as in Southeast Asia,” he said.

While the said factors are common drivers, Christie said that their presence does not necessarily determine radicalization would occur.

“Radicalization is highly-complex and multi-faceted. I would also argue the people being radicalized don’t think of themselves as being radicalized, it just seems like a process for them that they have no alternative and that they have a new identity now,” he said.

For Christie, countering radicalization starts with the society giving the people a “sense of belonging” and “watching out of those who are feeling isolated and detached to communities”.

“Whether it’s a negative identity or a positive identity, that’s not the point. They perceive it as part of their identity and we have to deal with that if we are going to resolve this issue,” he added.

Christie recommended for increased funding on the youth initiatives sector, especially within the schools.

“We have to engage people in the society. And education is also an important tool for social transformation,” he said.

In the Philippines, the government adopted in 2019 the National Action Plan on Preventing and Countering Violent Extremism aimed at addressing violent extremism and cutting support for local terrorist groups.

The strategy maps out coordination measures between the Philippines and other nations such as Indonesia and Malaysia.

Christie is the program head of Human Security and Peacebuilding at the Royal Roads University in Canada and is focused on issues of de-radicalization, terrorism, and human rights. (Joyce Ann L. Rocamora, PNA)

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