TransConflict is pleased to present insights into the work of Cooperation for Peace and Unity (CPAU), a member of the Global Coalition for Conflict Transformation, focusing on the role of women and youth in preventing violent extremism in Laghman and Kabul province, respectively; plus efforts to enhance access to mainstream religious knowledge as a means of countering violent extremism in Logar Province.
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Unemployed, marginalized, and impoverished young men are more vulnerable to recruitment into violent extremism in Afghanistan and the wider region. However, we have also seen radicalization of young individuals that are seemingly well-integrated, coming from comfortable backgrounds, and succeeding in education and other programs, including our higher education institutions. Youth may join these violent extremist groups because they offer economic incentives, a sense of belonging; as well as empowerment, a sense of adventure and a sense of helping others. Providing youth with opportunities to build positive identities through community engagement, civic participation and livelihoods can provide alternatives to violent extremism.
In Afghanistan women are partners in the prevention of conflict, as well as agents of change. They play a crucial role in understanding early signs of radicalization, in and around their household and family. They can help prevent radicalization. Since civil society organizations have an essential role to play in preventing and countering violent extremism, Cooperation for Peace and Unity (CPAU), as part of its countering violent extremism initiatives, organized in November a series of engagements around the role of women and youth in preventing violent extremism both in Laghman and Kabul provinces.
The two-day conference held towards the end of these series of engagements – where a renowned international Islamic scholar was invited – offered venues for exchanges and other discussion on social, religious, economic, and political issues, including providing platforms where peaceful narratives to violent extremism can develop and take root and bring a degree of accountability to the actions of law enforcement and other security forces, thereby helping to prevent human rights violations that can be a driver of violent extremism.
Enhancing access to mainstream religious knowledge as a means of countering violent extremism in Logar Province
Extremist organization’s target groups for recruitment and indoctrination in Afghanistan often have little to no grounding in mainstream religious knowledge, and are able to convince young people of their high abilities and knowledge of religious teachings. There is, therefore, a need to increase access to mainstream religious knowledge that counteracts the distortions and violent extremist interpretations circulating in the hands of radical groups.
As part of CPAU’s work to count violent extremism in Logar province, a series of engagement programs between international scholars, provincial leadership and local communities, including women groups were held. To conclude this engagement and develop a long-term plan of action, a two-day conference on “Enhancing access to mainstream religious knowledge” was held in Logar province on 11th and 12th October 2015.
Local officials, scholars, civil society activist and central government officials, as well as international scholars participated and supported this initiative and joined the conference. This conference also paid particular attention on the role of civil society organizations, academic institutions, foundations, and other non-governmental groups to significantly raise the profile and presence of voices that represent mainstream religious knowledge. The event was covered by Milli TV Logar, Shamshad TV, AsanasBakhtar TV, Radio Mili, Radio Paiwand, Radio Zeenat, Radio Salam-o-Tanzar and Radio Tawan.
Cooperation for Peace and Unity (CPAU) has worked in different communities through Afghanistan, to enhance their capabilities in order to settle their violence within the law. The revengeful nature of rural communities in Afghanistan is extremely persistent, in which CPAU solely tries to educate these communities and raise awareness.