Radicalization is a psychosocial process that can happen to anyone if conditions permitting
May 8,2016 8:20 PM
“Euro-Mediterranean Youth Moot to Combat Extremism” was organized on 4th–8th May 2016 in Amman, Wadi Rum and Aqaba featuring participants from Italy, Sweden, and Irbid and Mafraq governorates from Jordan. It challenged participants to understand the psychosocial process through which radicalization occurs in certain conditions, and consequently find ways to prevent those once returning to their home countries and communities.
“Prejudices and stereotypes lead to discrimination, and discrimination to radicalization, so if stereotypes are a product of too little and too simplified information about another group, we can just simply enhance communication between the groups and in this way solve at least some of the racially, ethnically and nationally motivated acts that have occurred in Europe and elsewhere in recent months”, one of the youth participants from Europe stated at the end of the Moot.
During the Moot, the participants were psychologically and intellectually stimulated towards mutual understanding of how prejudices and stereotypes are formed in a human mind, and how such stereotypes can easily lead to discriminatory actions in inter-group relations – and further to radicalized acts if conditions permitting.
Three sets of interactive workshops were conducted during the Moot, covering topics of “Psychological drivers of Racism, Xenophobia and Extremist ideologies”, “Co-creation: How to overcome Biases, Prejudices and Stereotypes?” and “Having a Voice: Activism and civic responsibility to fight against biased information”. In workshops youth were challenged to create various artistic products including short videos and sketches to demonstrate everyday discrimination, and to plan advocacy campaigns to challenge some of the identified prejudices and social biases pertaining in their home communities.
“Visualizing and touching one’s emotions during the Moot worked so well, since it made me understand how even I have so many biases about other people and groups, due to the natural human tendency to interpret the world and other people through one’s own personal and culturally specific perspective. Challenging these biases is so important and must be a starting point for building any kind of trust between different cultural, national, and ethnic groups”, one of the Moot participants said.
At the end of the Moot, youth participants had gone through a comprehensive psychosocial process to understand how biases, prejudices and stereotypes are formed based on personal fears, misinformation and group influence, and how such psychological processes can lead to the emergence of racism, xenophobia and extremism if certain social preconditions – the so called push factors such as lack of purpose and belonging in one’s life, and social drivers including poverty and unemployment, are contributing to the situation.
It was then concluded that we should not let this revelation to go in the air, but we shall continue to work together around these topics and train more and more youth in our home countries about the same thematic. Hence the participating youth decided to create an unofficial “Euro-Mediterranean Network to Combat Extremism”, where they could stay in touch and plan both online and offline radicalization prevention activities, which they as newly capacitated “change-makers” can implement among their peers in their home communities.
The “Euro-Mediterranean Youth Moot to Combat Racism, Xenophobia and Extremist Ideologies” is a Future Pioneers –project supported by the Euro-Med Youth Programme under the auspices of Ministry of Political and Parliamentary Affairs of Jordan. It was implemented in partnership with Associazione Sud (Italy), Spiritus Mundi (Sweden) and Leaders of Life (Irbid, Jordan), featuring in total 28 youth participants from each of the locations, as well as from Mafraq City and Mafraq governorate vulnerable villages.“Lack of knowledge and meaningful activities lead youth to radicalize. They feel like being in a dark place with no purpose in their lives. In such conditions it is easy to believe whatever people say to manipulate them.”