Blog entry on the Night Owl Session entitled Ordinary radical(s): In Search of a Meaningful Response by Hanina Ben Bernou

DISCLAIMER: The contribution is a part of series written by the table moderators of the Night Owl Session entitled Ordinary radical(s): In Search of a Meaningful Response, which took place on 5 September at the Bled Strategic Forum. Please note that the author contributed to this article in his personal capacity. The views expressed are his own and do not necessarily represent the views of his/her employer.

Author: Hanina Ben Bernou

I’m glad to report back from the roundtable I moderated at the session on “Ordinary radical(s): In Search of a Meaningful Response.” The lively discussion benefited from inputs provided by BSF participants with wide professional backgrounds and from divers countries. Bringing in very different perspectives is particularly relevant given the complex and global nature of the threat.

During the roundtable discussion we had the opportunity to discuss a non-exhaustive set of reasons for individuals to turn to radicalisation and violent extremism as well as possible responses to this global trend.

We agreed that there is no single trigger leading to radicalisation and violent extremism. It is a complex, live long and multi-factor process with a very personal pathway. It is the combination of local and global factors which facilitate the recruitment process including frustration, harsh security measures, identity crises, insufficiently empowered teachers, inter-community tensions, Islamophobia, lack of employment opportunities and perspective, marginalisation, online indoctrination, over-mediatisation, political exploitation, stigmatisation as well as the unintended consequence of globalisation.

In terms of possible solutions, we discussed the need to create more space for dialogue, get better in telling success stories, improve the understanding of resilience, keep on diminishing social, political and economic inequalities which are fuelling the recruitment narrative, reduce fears, support an active civil society sector as well as think about the possibility of promoting a European Islam which would be defined by European Muslims. We also agreed that prevention needs to happen simultaneously at the local and global level. Finally, it is paramount for successful prevention measures to keep the balance between providing effective security and safeguarding individual freedoms.