Why is it difficult for private instances engaged in deradicalisation efforts to communicate individual successes? The following note provides a short explanation.
Oftentimes, people having undergone deradicalisation but who are, in fact, veritable former extremists, harbor remnants of extremist values, negative emotions and doubtful allegiances. They may or may not have fully and sustainably disengaged from their old networks and habits, for a lack of alternatives, or a range of other reasons. Promoting their path out of extremism is not always the best choice, for the aforementioned reasons.
Talking about Islamic radicalisation, of course, the – by far – largest group of Muslims is that of mainstream Muslims who would never commit despicable acts. Neither in a Muslim country nor in any other country.
An already deradicalized person might, helas, fall prey to recidivism, which may at a later point be held against an instance of deradicalisation, having labelled him or her successful in taking a distance from formerly held ideologies, or from false friends.
There is one group of people, then, whom one can regard as exemplary when it comes to deradicalization: former extremists who have come to promote efforts against extremism. And, without question, there are, amongst a second group, many role models and exemplary, responsible leaders in Muslim communities. Integrating these two groups of people – formers who promote peace and legalism and other Muslim role models – given that they clearly oppose terrorism, is to be advocated.
Positive examples in the general work of respectable initiatives of deradicalization are to be highlighted, and awareness about their work is a thing we want to see in the media more often. With credible voices, speaking the language of their communities.
Hence, as an organisation or the media, one should better communicate about deradicalization in general, about role models, and about peaceful, mainstream Muslims, however not necessarily about single people who have only just been deradicalized.
Thorsten Koch, MA, PgDip