By Shubhangi Sood
With an exponential growth in terrorism over the past few years, it important to stamp out the cause of terrorism. Several countries have joined the crusade against terrorism. While most of them are focusing on how to punish the guilty and avert the disasters, only a few of them are actually doing something to tackle the root cause.
De-radicalization: A jolly good polar twin
Radicalization is a process by which an individual or a group comes to adopt increasingly extreme political, social, or religious ideals and aspirations that: reject or undermine the status quo or reject and/or undermine contemporary ideas and expressions of freedom of choice. On the other hand, De-radicalization is a process in which radicalised individuals or groups are given proper counselling to reverse such violent ideologies.
[su_pullquote align=”right”]De-radicalization is a process in which radicalised individuals or groups are given proper counselling to reverse such violent ideologies.[/su_pullquote]
Often referred to as boot camps or de-radicalization camps, these places are the centres where detailed procedures are adopted to reform the mindset of the terrorists through counselling sessions, vocational activities, art therapy and such procedures.The exact model of de-radicalization varies across nations. However, the main idea is to make the terrorists valuable citizens of the country and prevent them from re-joining militant forces once they are freed.
Beneficiaries and Brothers: The case of Saudi Arabia
Saudi Arabia is the front-runner in its unique de-radicalization philosophy. The inmates are treated to gourmet meals, allowed to spend private time with their spouses in personalised areas, pampered with Olympic-size swimming pools. This is done to drive home the point that the nation is not their enemy.
As Saudi Arabia confronts a new and a very real domestic threat from the Islamic State group, it is expanding its groundbreaking program to rehabilitate extremists. More than 2,500 Saudis are said to be fighting along with the Islamic State (ISIS) group in Syria and Iraq. More than 650 of these have returned home, posing a very real threat to the kingdom. The inmates are counselled by moderate Islamic clerics, psychologists, sociologists, and called ‘beneficiaries’, and treated as ‘brothers’.Football, a powerful method for de-radicalization | Picture Courtesy: BBC News
Located near Riyadh, the Mohammed bin Nayef Centre for Advice, Counselling, and Care is a key element of the kingdom’s counter-terrorism arsenal. The journey from radicalism to rehabilitation is made easier by such programs. They are made to think differently about Islam, as opposed to the misplaced Islam teachings by their militancy recruiters. The country boasts of a staggering 87 percent success rate in reforming the terrorists, including the terrorists from Guantanamo Bay.
The joy of playing: The way out?
Considering the example of Nigeria, where the surge of Boko Haram and their involvement in the kidnapping of schoolgirls had left the entire world aghast. The kidnapping even got the White House’s eyes rolling. It resulted in an initiative called #BringBackOurGirls, launched by USA’s Former First Lady, Michelle Obama. Since then the terrorist outfit has merged with the Islamic State (ISIS) and renamed itself as ‘The Western African Province’. Its tactics have become fiercer, and the stress of making Nigeria an Islamic State has become much more predominant.
However, many of the imprisoned Boko Haram members have taken up to football under the government’s de-radicalisation scheme.
It’s a monumental move, considering that the jihadist group completely bans sport at all. Obviously, the inmates showed strong resistance, but eventually, they joined in. They have a low tolerance level, but the sport and the basic team spirit are helping them manage their anger. The imams visit regularly to teach them what Islam actually means, and this revelation has opened the eyes of many.
Reaching out to the youth
Another such model which has been lauded for both its implementation and results is the Aarhus Model of Denmark. The radicalised youths are identified and then reformed through counselling sessions by fellow Muslims. It helps the Muslim youth in finding their identity when they feel alienated by the hatred they are subjected to by their peers and the society. In some cases, it offers young people returning from Syria the opportunity to reintegrate into the Danish society, provided they’ve committed no offence abroad.
The journey to weed out terrorism is a long one, made uneven and slippery by multiple factors. The authorities need to reach out to the youth who feels perturbed by the radical ideologies that the militant groups thrust on them. The Government has to reach out to them before the terrorists do. Radical elements can be reformed with time.Thus we need to clasp on to such reform programmes and enforce them with renewed hope and vigour.
Featured Image Source: Middle East Institute
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