Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed above are those of the authors.
Since I was a child, I have already learned about Islamic teaching in my village. I learned how to implement Islamic teaching in daily life, such as praying (salat), reciting Al-Qur’an, and caring for myself during the period (haid). Unfortunately, the teaching made me more intolerant towards other groups with different ways of practicing jurisprudence and thought. The intolerant thoughts were strengthened by the role of the family that did not understand the danger the thoughts were in my future. My search did not stop there, and I tried to reach more friends with similar thoughts. I was lucky because I never stopped learning and used my critical thinking to question, “is that true Islamic teaching at the moment that I should fight for?”
Besides the story, I have been involved in countering/preventing violent extremism since 2019. Based on those experiences, I have tried to understand who is the person/institution that should be responsible for countering intolerant ideology that will be the gate to becoming extremist.
According to Elga Sikkens et al.’s study on the title “Parental Influence on Radicalization and De-radicalization according to the Lived Experiences of Former Extremists and their Families” 2017, a family has an important role in helping the members of the family to disengage with the radical group and vice versa. The study also mentioned that the knowledge of ex-extremists’ families influences the deradicalisation process after they are free from jail. In a family that has social support, a member of a family that is radicalized tends to make the ex-extremist easier to disengage. But, if the target does not have a supportive family, he will be vulnerable to being exposed to radical ideas again.
The other study by Anastasia Narkevich (2017) highlights the value of community involvement. She also mentioned the role of an individual that contributes to preventing/countering violent extremism in any aspect, such as being more aware, spreading awareness, avoiding stereotypes, and challenging racism and Islamophobia. Based on Narkevich’s findings, the following factors can prevent violent extremism: not linking Islam with radicalism and terrorism/changing terms that highlight radicalism and terrorism to Islam; integration; maintaining diversity in one environment; promoting and supporting Muslim communities; education; building awareness; building strong peer-to-peer relationships; the existence of counselling services; local police cooperation; and against violent radicalism at the ideological level. The approaches that the community or society can take in preventing violent extremism include:
- Community leaders build awareness by conducting workshops and discussions,
- Priests and leaders in the community carry out counter-narratives,
- Reaching out to other communities, conducting intercultural dialogue, and making the community or society more open to outsiders to prevent stereotypes and Islamophobia, such as by holding open houses in mosques.
However, Narkevich’s studies need to be adapted to any certain country.
Hence, we can understand that the phenomena that happened to me and/or the other people involved in extremist thoughts are the collaboration factors among self, education, environment, and broader that affect an individual to be intolerant and then becoming an extremist (see Schmid, 2013 and Doosje, 2016).
According to the studies and my experience, the responsibility of preventing/countering violent extremism is not only burdened towards any particular institution or individual but all aspects that touch human activities and the heart. Therefore, it can use any approach, including individual, family, religious, community, and state policy.
- Alex Schmid, “Radicalisation, De-Radicalisation, Counter-Radicalisation: A Conceptual
- Discussion and Literature Review” (The Hague: The International Centre for Counter-Terrorism (ICCT), 2013), 4, http://icct.nl/publication/radicalisation-de-radicalisation-counter-radicalisation-a-conceptual discussion-and-literature-review/;
- Anastasia Narkevich, “The Role of Community in Countering Radicalization to Violence: A Winnipeg Case-Study,” (Thesis, Universitas Monitoba Canada, 2017).
- Bertjan Doosje et al., “Terrorism, Radicalization and de-Radicalization,” Current Opinion in Psychology 11 (October 2016): 79–84, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.copsyc.2016.06.008.
- Elga Sikkens, Marion van San, Stijn Sieckelinck, dan Micha de Winter, “Parental Influence on Radicalization and De-radicalization according to the Lived Experiences of Former Extremists and their Families”, in Journal for Deradicalization, no. 2, 2017, h. 192–226.