“The battle against violent extremism does not begin on some distant battlefield, but … in our own neighborhoods and in classrooms and workplaces and houses of worship, and homes.”

That was Secretary of State John Kerry speaking at the opening of a daylong Strong Cities Network workshop in Washington.

Strong Cities is a global network of cities and other communities that work to prevent violent extremism around the world by sharing information and collaborating on innovative practices at the local level.

“This initiative allows for issues on violent extremism to be discussed and mitigated through information-sharing and city-to-city exchanges,” said Ali Hassan Joho, governor of Mombasa, Kenya.

Leaders from Montgomery County, Maryland, said they use a communitywide approach that combines the power of educators, law enforcement and faith leaders to identify and combat extremism.

Police officer seated with group of people (World Organization for Resource Development and Education)
Montgomery County’s model to combat extremism uses the whole community. (World Organization for Resource Development and Education)

Announced in September 2015 at the U.N. General Assembly, Strong Cities now includes 35 cities from Africa, the Middle East, Europe, South and North America and Asia, with many more in the process of joining.

The first annual Strong Cities Network summit will be held May 11–12 in Antalya, Turkey. Over 50 mayors and 100 practitioners from around the world will attend the two-day event, where they will exchange ideas on preventing all kinds of violent extremism.

“We want cities across the globe to help each other to make use of the tools and the capabilities that are available to protect citizens,” Kerry said. “We want to create more opportunities to learn from one another about what works best in building resilience to radicalization.”