The great role of parents in the prevention of violent extremism
Podgorica, (MINA) – Parents play a big role in preventing and countering violent extremism, but there is still work to be done on their education and media literacy, it was assessed at the Expert Workshop on Community Resilience to Violent Extremism, organized by Forum MNE.
The workshop participants concluded that prevention is needed from an early age, and that parents and young people need to be educated on democratic values.
“Creating community resilience through education requires a multisectoral, systematic approach that involves professional services, parents, professors and students who in the first place need to be sensitized on this issue,” it was concluded at the workshop.
Coordinator of National Operational Counter Violent Extremism Strategy Team, Dragan Pejanović, said at the beginning of the workshop that the return of foreign fighters from Syria and Iraq is currently a major problem in the neighborhood.
“These are usually women and children, but men are also expected to come,” Pejanović said.
That, as he stated, could be a huge problem for national security.
“Not only for our country, although it is least affected by it. The least number of our people have departed, four men are still there, four women, two children who are our citizens and we have five newborns,” Pejanović said.
According to him, there are also women who have been radicalized or even fought, and 90 percent of men are likely to be prosecuted.
“They have already violated the Criminal Code of Montenegro because they went there to participate in the armed conflict,” Pejanović added.
He stressed that no one should be stigmatized.
“Let everyone be responsible for their own deeds, but let us be people first and take care of human rights,” Pejanović said.
He stated that new challenges are opening up, and that unconventional terrorism, namely cyber-attacks and hybrid warfare, is the most complex threat so far.
“The problem is you don’t know who attacks you and where the attacks come from. It doesn’t take a lot of money, good hackers are enough to throw the country to its knees. They did it with Estonia in 2007,” Pejanović said.
He said that a memorandum of cooperation between the Ministries of Sport and Youth, the Interior and Public Administration, as well as the Police Administration, on activities related to Internet abuse was signed this morning.
“That darknet, or cyber space, is causing us a lot of problems. There is a lot of misinformation on the Internet, and according to some, over 51 percent of published information is incorrect,” Pejanović stated.
He urged young people to pay attention and “have a mind of their own”, and announced that they would work on educating and raising awareness about Internet protection next year.
State Secretary to the Ministry of Labor and Social Welfare and President of the Assistance and Protection Team, Vukica Jelić, said it was the task of the Team to help people at risk of radicalization as well as those who were in the problem.
Members of the team, she said, are representatives of the social, health, education, police, and non-governmental (NGO) sectors.
“This team is a real example of good cooperation between institutions and NGOs,” Jelić stated.
She said anyone can contact the Team and report a case of radicalization to the toll-free number 080121212, or email to the Ministries of Interior and Public Administration, and all information is available on the website Zajedno protiv ekstremizma (Together Against Extremism).
Jelić said that not all radicalism is dangerous. “On the contrary, some of the ideas that spurred development were very radical.”
“We evaluate whether it is something that is dangerous to the individual and the family, and then we deal with it,” she added.
As she said, the team will deal with returnees from Syria, women and children.
“Those who have done something will be held responsible, and our goal is to address rehabilitation and socialization,” Jelić added.
Director-General of the Directorate for International Cooperation and member of the National Operational Team (NOT), Nikola Šaranović, said that the first Strategy for Countering Violent Extremism mainly represented a national document.
“While the new one, for the period 2020-2024, lowers the coordination of activities from the national to the local level, including civil society,” Šaranović said.
He explained that he meant not only the NGO sector, but also the academic community, religious communities and other actors.
“The first goal is to increase the accountability of the society, that is, the institutions in the fight against violent extremism,” Šaranović stated, adding that they also have performance indicators that will measure the results.
The second goal, he said, is to strengthen the capacities of institutions and other entities in combating radicalism and violent extremism.
“The 2020 objective defined by the Action Plan is to consolidate all these operational goals into one year, with clearly identified target groups, tasks, deadlines for these activities and their funding.
He said they also included religious communities because, as he stated, counter-narratives have the best effect when they come from one who gives an authentic interpretation.
Šaranović said that we were living in a time that did not break free from the theory of secularization and the view that religion should “shrink into private chambers” and that the public space should be cleansed of any dogma or ideology.
According to him, this theory of secularization has long been obsolete.
“In Montenegro, we are proud of the differences, the religious differences in particular, which would not have happened if the theory of secularization had come to life,” Šaranović said.
Executive Director of the MNE Forum, Elvira Hadžibegović Bubanja, said that the NGO is a member of NOT working in the field of violent extremism.
According to her, Montenegrin society has also proven not to be so resistant to violent extremism.
“Our goal is to make Montenegro safe for both young people and other citizens,” Hadzibegović Bubanja emphasized.
Today’s workshop is a part of the regional project “Communities First: Creation of a civil society hub to prevent and counter violent extremism – From Prevention to Reintegration”, implemented by the MNE Forum with partners from Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Northern Macedonia and Serbia, with the financial support of the European Union and the Ministry of Public Administration.
Participants of the workshop were representatives of civil society organizations, media, academia and institutions dealing with this topic.
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