Good Practice 9
Civil society can contribute to CVE efforts by providing narratives and messages against violence; presenting alternative and non-violent means to reach shared goals; and promoting institutional diversity, which breeds mutual understanding as a bulwark against violent extremism.
States often attempt to send their messages to communities that could serve as a potential breeding ground for violent extremism. Nevertheless, these governmental messages are often not received as intended. Governments are often perceived as one side of the conflict by extremist groups. In order to reach out to the heart of the community and/or violent extremist groups, states, consistent with their relevant national laws, should consider working with civil society groups and/or individuals that often have developed strong ties in the relevant local communities.
Good Practice 10
It is crucial for states to build trust while working with communities. States should ensure meaningful community participation in order to mobilize the resources of the community in CVE-relevant activities.
Effectively engaging society requires the establishment of trust between government agencies and society as a whole. Preexisting tension between some segments of society and government agencies might be a significant obstacle to achieving this objective. Then the crucial first step is to re-establish trust on which future collaboration will be constructed; otherwise, efforts from any side are likely to lead to a deadlock. Communities may have doubts and suspect state actors are simply using such activities for information collection. Such a situation jeopardizes the success of activities, as it precludes building trust between the related community and state agencies.
Communities’ possible perception of being stigmatized as a potential terrorist breeding ground may present another obstacle in building mutual trust between the state and communities. Such a perception is likely to lead communities to close all possible doors to collaboration. Therefore, states should avoid creating such a perception by sending a clear message to communities that they do not target their communities because of their unique characteristics such as race, religion, and ethnic background.
Government agencies cannot easily work alone in vulnerable communities where violent extremist views may be well received, and it is crucial for state institutions to build trust in such communities. State agencies should work with community residents and community leaders to build a sense of common purpose around CVE. State agencies might foster nuanced and locally rooted CVE programs and initiatives by serving as facilitators, conveners, and sources of information to support local networks and partnerships at the grassroots level. State agencies do not have to necessarily be involved in these activities, but they can be of assistance in coordinating resources, delivering funds, and providing training.
Further elaboration on engaging with local communities in CVE-related activities can be found in the GCTF’s Good Practices on Community Engagement and Community-Oriented Policing as Tools to Counter Violent Extremism, which was adopted at the GCTF Ministerial Plenary session in September 2013.
Good Practice 11
States can help civil society in CVE activities.
Many civil society groups function in different fields (e.g., human rights, social services, cultural activities) and often might not be aware that these efforts also contribute to countering violent extremism. They might not be aware of the fact that they can play a vital role in CVE. They may also lack sufficient resources. In other respects, there may be robust NGOs that may not possess CVE-specific expertise. State actors can support civil society to increase their awareness and capacity in CVE.
Good Practice 12
States should promote tolerance and facilitate dialogue in society to build communities which appreciate their differences and understand each other.
It is important to identify the ways to stimulate inter-cultural, inter-religious, and inter-ethnic dialogue. An exchange of views might enable one to understand how others see the world. Creating dialogue channels serves as a first step for communities to get to know one another. Once different communities start to socialize, they might acknowledge the fact that there are communalities that they can use as a common ground for further dialogue. States might also work to promote democratic values, human rights, pluralism, and freedom through education and outreach programs. Religious communities can work together to promote tolerance and to stem support for violent extremism. As a part of their efforts, they might create exchange programs of young theologians and might offer meetings for students to promote interreligious dialogue and tolerance. Educational projects to raise awareness of different forms of prejudice and hostility might be implemented to prevent intolerance and discrimination.
Good Practice 13
States and society can work together to amplify voices that oppose exploitation of religion by violent extremist groups.
No religion encourages its adherents to commit violent acts in its name. However, throughout history, there have been violent extremist groups that utilize their faith communities as breeding grounds for violence. Encouraging moderate voices that promote tolerance, dialogue, and mutual understanding to speak out and self-monitor, including with other religious groups, has proven to be an effective way to suppress violent extremist rhetoric or, at least, to mitigate its negative effects.