The document on policy recommendations is one of the outcomes of the Connekt project, which advises to move away from a security-focused approach and address the root causes of radicalization and extreme violence
Connekt (Contexts of Violent Extremism in the MENA and Balkan Societies) is the European research project, led by the European Institute of the Mediterranean with the participation of the URV’s UNESCO Chair of Intercultural Dialogue of the Mediterranean, which has investigated what drives young people between the ages of 12 and 30 in eight countries (Egypt, Tunisia, Jordan, Morocco, Kosovo, Bosnia and Herzegovina, North Macedonia and Bulgaria) to initiate a process of radicalization towards violent extremism . As a result of this research, the Chair has published a report with policy recommendations on radicalization and extreme violence addressed to EU political decision-makers and national interlocutors in the Mediterranean, North African and Balkan states.
This document offers practical and useful recommendations to counter radicalization and extreme violence by addressing seven hypothetical factors that are considered to drive young people to violent extremism: religion, economic deprivation, territorial inequalities, transnational dynamics, digital socialization, political issues (ideas and grievances), culture and educational and leisure opportunities.
In general terms, the research team has not identified a combination of factors that lead to radicalization. Instead, they have seen that radicalization responds to the context, the time frame and the specific features of each subject. That is why the recommendations they make to political decision-makers focus on more holistic approaches, which address the deep causes of radicalization and extreme violence, rather than focusing exclusively on security.
Thus, among other measures, they recommend creating municipal, regional and state councils on religious diversity that can become points of reference in legislative matters; providing young people with the skills and training they need to adapt to the demands of today’s employment market; reinforcing the role of education as an essential tool for promoting critical thinking; increasing the budget to create sustainable rehabilitation programs for terrorist fighters and their families who have come back, and educating and promoting gender equality as a way to dismantle the potential of toxic masculinities.
The recommendations are based on a cross-regional comparative reading of empirical research results arising from semi-structured and in-depth interviews with more than 118 representatives of state and non-state institutions in 8 countries: Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Egypt, Jordan, Kosovo, North Macedonia, Morocco and Tunisia.
The report “Countering and Preventing Macro-Level Drivers of Radicalisation and Violent Extremism in MENA and Balkans” can be consulted on the Connekt project website, where the summary document and the full report are also available.