Societies with unresolved internal issues are fertile ground for extremism
Podgorica, (MINA) – Societies with unresolved domestic political and ethnic issues are fertile ground for activating extremism, said Olivera Injac, a professor at the Faculty of Humanity Studies of the University Donja Gorica.
In a workshop titled “Civil Society in Building Communities Resilient to Violent Extremism”, organized by the Forum MNE, Injac said that she has been working on security topics for 20 years, of which 12 in the academic community, and before that in the security sector.
She recalled that in Latin extremism means rigidity, extremity, exclusivity, and that it is a phenomenon as old as civilization.
“Extremism is not just about religion, it’s more about politics, with the kind of violence that is, in fact, becoming more widespread as a cultural pattern, as a lifestyle,” Injac said.
According to her, extremism, in some of its violent forms, has become a continuously dominant phenomenon in the 21st century.
“It is tied to religion or politics. It by no means works on its own, but it finds a stronghold in religion and politics,” Injac said.
There are at least three types of extremism, she noted.
“Extremism tied with politics can either be left or right, and they are very specific, and then we have religious one, as a separate kind,” Injac specified.
She explained that right-wing extremism functioned most during the 20th century, throughout World War II, and is recognizable in the roots of fascism and Nazism, and one of its most extreme forms is nationalist extremism.
“In particular, through the wars in our region, in the former Yugoslavia, it underwent an absolute revitalization,” Injac said.
She said that left-wing extremism is one that opposes different types of ideological patterns, citing the process of anti-globalism and anti-liberal protests worldwide as an example.
Injac said that currently in Europe extremism is linked to Islamophobia, and also so-called anti-immigration extremism is increasingly gaining ground.
She recalled that no special propaganda is needed today to spread extremism because everything is achieved online, she said.
“Today, the online sphere is the one where recruiting is highest,” Injac warned.
According to her, it is not easy to create a universal pattern of understanding extremism.
The most common instigators are, Injac said, dissatisfaction caused by a number of reasons such as tensions in society, conflicts, feelings of injustice, marginalization and exclusion of any kind.
The second category, as she stated, includes personal desires to belong to the group, and third are ideas.
Injac said there were numerous risks of exposure to extremism, the greatest being in post-conflict societies.
She recalled that this is a big problem in Bosnia and Herzegovina, because it is a post-conflict society in which there has been no reconciliation, and where ethnic communities have never been further apart.
“The continuous work of all of us is to combat extremism. It is not an ad-hoc and overnight process, it is not the adoption of action plans and strategies, it is a continuous process through an integrated community approach,” emphasized Injac.
The example of Bosnia and Herzegovina, she said, is adequate to understand all the issues of extremism, because there are right-wing, religious, and anti-immigration issues there.
“Behind this are numerous societies that have unresolved political and ethnic issues. And do you also know any in the Balkans where these issues have been resolved? It is fertile ground for extremism to be ongoing at all times and to develop, “Injac explained.
She said that according to official documents, extremism was a marginal problem in Montenegro, and that at one time it was only talked about from the perspective of foreign fighters.
She noted that in some areas there are very strong influences related to this issue, and that there were also xenophobic attacks in Berane.
“So it is present, except it might not be visible. The problem was marginalized because cases of violent and religious extremism were isolated, “Injac said.
According to her, if there is an advocacy of hatred and intolerance on the basis of ethnicity, religion, race or any other grounds in a social community, then there is a serious risk of extremism.
“Radicalism in politics and religion exists everywhere, but in post-conflict and societies that have not overcome their internal divisions, the risk is even greater,” Injac said.
She said she agrees that the awareness of the dangers of extremism should be strengthened.
“The awareness of the community as a whole should be strengthened. But what have we achieved if extremism continues to develop in different shapes and forms,” Injac asked.
She told the workshop participants that they should work to combat hatred and intolerance in Montenegrin society.
“There is too much of it in public discourse,” Injac added.
The participants of the two-day workshop are representatives of civil society organizations (CSOs), media, academia and institutions dealing with this topic.
“During the workshop, participants will work on drafting measures and activities for the civilian sector in order to build the resilience of Montenegrin communities to violent extremism, through active participation of the civilian sector,” Forum MNE said.
As stated, the participants of the workshop have highlighted the improvement of CSOs’ capacities, especially at the local level, as a priority in this area so that they can bring about changes in their communities.
It was assessed that networking of all relevant actors at local and national level, such as NGOs, professional associations, media, formal and informal groups and educational institutions, should be facilitated, and involve academia and research organizations.
Promoting positive narratives in response to extremist and anti-democratic narratives, as well as enhancing activities that foster critical thinking and media literacy, are recognized as priorities.
According to the participants of the workshop, a special focus of the activity should be placed on the youth and parents, or family.
The workshop is a part of the regional project “Communities First: Creation of civil society hub to address violent extremism—from Prevention to Reintegration” implemented by the Forum MNE with partners from Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Northern Macedonia and Serbia , with financial support from the European Union and the Ministry of Public Administration.
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