On 29th November, EFD Executive Director and Chairman of RAN Communications and Narratives (C&N) Working Group, Alexander Ritzmann, was among a group of policy experts speaking at the European Parliament’s Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs Committee’s Pubic Hearing on preventing and countering radicalisation and violent extremism.
The Parliament has convened the Hearing to assess progress since the adoption of its Resolution of 25th November 2015 on the prevention of radicalisation and recruitment of European citizens by terrorist organisations. The panellists will discuss the challenges faced by European governments with particular emphasis on how best to prevent radicalisation via the Internet and in prisons. Both issues pose significant and growing challenges for politicians and regulators. Other speakers include EU Security Union Commissioner Sir Julian King, as well as representatives from Google, Europol, Eurojust, the Danish police, RAN Prisons and RAN EXIT working groups among civil society and other representatives.
During his presentation, Alexander focused on the importance of empowering civil society, in particular small NGOs and/or engaged individuals. This can be done by creating a network of pro-democratic, pro-European activists, said Alexander, a network which must be constantly supported and maintained. He also outlined that local governments should indirectly be more involved in this particular networking building process by facilitating trainings and providing easy access to funds. Local governments should also have a transparent vetting process when they decide which partners to cooperate with and this can be done by ensuring that these partners promote a pluralistic, democratic and liberal society and by including from the beginning a strong evaluation component to be able to select and promote good practices for later stages. The upcoming EU Internet Forums “Empowering Civil Society Program” could be an opportunity to create such a network of activists and engaged citizens who promote European values and counter propaganda, explained Alexander.
In conclusion, Alexander said that preventing violent extremism and fostering community resilience might be considered a soft approach, but it can in fact deliver hard and tangible results.
For the Draft Programme, click here.
Alexander’s address at the hearing can be watched here.