'Violent extremism and radicalization that lead to terrorism is a complete denial of democracy and of the values which are at the very core of any peaceful, prosperous, and successful nation'
The rising trend of radicalization on political and social issues needs to be tackled globally, along the same vein, a broad-based counter narrative to thwart extremist ideology is deemed necessary, speakers at a Dhaka seminar said on Wednesday.
The day-long discussion program styled "Youth in Preventing Radicalization and Violent Extremism Experiences from North Bengal," organized by the Bangladesh Enterprise Institute (BEI) was held at the capital's Hotel Lake Castle.
High Commissioner of Canada in Bangladesh, Benoit Préfontaine, special guest at the program said that, all Canadians agree on this global compact, that the rising trend of radicalization around the world needs to be tackled globally.
"Violent extremism and radicalization that lead to terrorism is a complete denial of democracy and of the values which are at the very core of any peaceful, prosperous, and successful nation," the High Commissioner said.
"Radicalization is a difficult phenomenon that cannot be effectively addressed by using coercive force alone. Apart from many other national or institutional efforts in counteracting against radicalization, educating people and attaining the support of diverse communities are the real solution," he said.
"Prevention is the key; and put a stop to radicalization requires cooperation among a whole host of social actors. Governments, civil society, youth groups, law enforcement agencies, and academia - must pull together to promote alternative narratives, delivered by credible figures," he reiterated.
Emphasizing on academic research, Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) Director General Dr Benazir Ahmed said, "We do not have much education materials and evidence-based researches on counter terrorism in social media, whereas, there are volumes of materials related to terrorism on social media: facebook, twitter, instagram, and youtube, etc. We need to raise awareness and develop more educational material on counter terrorism to prevent radicalization and violent extremism."
He also advised the government to include Imams (Islamic clerics) in the national pay-roll and urged Imams not to use the mosque for achieving political objectives.
In order to equip with the tools and knowledge, a total of 450 young students as "Champions of Peace" and 30 teachers as "Agent of Change," BEI has been arranging training on conflict resolution and peace-building, under a 30-month project. It selected 15 colleges and 15 madrasas from 15 upazila across the country.
Representatives of Champions of Peace, and Agents of Change were present at the program to share their experiences and learning from BEI led project. Students, in particular, mentioned that they have all become confident that they will not have any chance of being radicalized after what they have learned from these trainings.
A participant identified herself as Mumtahina from Bujarga Santashpur Karamatia Fazil Madrassa said, "I am confident that I will never be radicalized."
Student of Mithapukur Mahabidyalaya Iffat Tabassum said that these trainings raised awareness about radicalization and violent extremism at individual levels, improved confidence levels and helped acquire new skills for public speaking.
At the seminar, teachers recommended the institutionalization of youth forums, engage school students, and expand project activities to the educational institutions of remote areas. Raising awareness at the grassroots level, sensitizing communities, and creating scope for reintegration and rehabilitation of violent extremist offenders, and many others to prevent radicalization from its roots, were emphasized
Distinguished Fellow and member of the board of governors of BEI, former ambassador Farooq Sobhan, and Acting President of BEI Ambassador M Humayun Kabir chaired three different sessions.
Foreign Minister Dr. AK Abdul Momen was present as chief guest while Country Representative of United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women Shoko Ishikawa, Head of Delegation of the European Union to Bangladesh Rensje Teerink, Rapid Action Battalion Director General Dr Benazir Ahmed, among others, were present at the event.