The best people to counter violent extremism might just be youth.
Maybe even you.
“Research shows that young people are more likely to listen to, and be influenced by, their peers,” said Samantha Power, U.S. permanent representative to the United Nations, on April 23.
“Yet too often, we approach youth as the passive recipients of campaigns to counter violent extremism, rather than active participants in shaping their strategy and spearheading their implementation,” Power said.
Speaking at a U.N. Security Council debate on the role of young people in countering violent extremism and promoting peace, Power highlighted youth efforts to halt extremism.
Zineb Benalla, a young Moroccan who participated in February’s White House Summit to Counter Violent Extremism, developed a program that encourages critical thinking among youth in northwest Africa.
Benalla met with Muslim religious leaders and convinced them to support book clubs at madrassas. Students and teachers were given e-readers and permitted to download novels and philosophy books.
“Zineb’s program aimed to broaden the curriculum to foster more critical thinking and reasoning skills — skills that help young people question, and ultimately reject, the narrow ideologies of terrorist groups,” Power said.
Karim Farok, an Egyptian amateur musician, used musical satire to blunt Daesh messaging. Farok remixed a Daesh chant with music and posted it online — a challenge to the terror group’s ban on instrumental music.
“By transgressing the group’s rules, Karim’s song encouraged others to express criticism as well, rather than be silenced by fear,” Power said. The remix went viral and spawned countless other musical spoofs of Daesh chants, “a potent form of counter-extremist messaging that kids can relate to.”