Empowerment of youth crucial in preventing violent extremism, conclude participants at OSCE meeting in Vienna

Preventing and responding to the terrorist radicalization of youth north and south of the Mediterranean was in focus of the OSCE Mediterranean Contact Group meeting held today in Vienna.

“We need to step up efforts to prevent radicalization amongst youth”, said the Chairperson of the Contact Group, Permanent Representative of Austria to the OSCE Christian Strohal. “Ensuring the participation of youth, socially, economically and politically is very important in this regard.”

Fadwa Al Ahmadi, a youth activist from Tunisia, stressed the need to create spaces for youth to express themselves: “Youth empowerment is crucial in preventing violent extremism in North Africa. We must help them be heard.”

Véronique Roger-Lacan, the Permanent Representative of France to the OSCE, said: “We support wholeheartedly the efficient work carried out by the UnitedCVE team, in their relationship with the youth of the OSCE’s 57 participating states. We call on civil society to maintain its engagement against the radicalization of youth. We continue to co-operate in the fight against recruiters and terrorists.”

French filmmaker Fabienne Servan Schreiber, who works on creating counter-narratives to radicalization in film, stressed the importance of working with parents affected by violent extremism and sharing their stories: “Parents are on the frontlines and must be at the centre of the fight against violent extremism and radicalization leading to terrorism.”

“We must help parents to help their children,” said Valérie de Boisrolin, President of the French Association Syrie-Prevention-Famille, whose daughter left to Syria in 2013. “There is such ignorance about religion among young people who leave to fight in Syria. We also need to make youth aware of the reality of terrorism on the ground, violence and abuse. We must unite and do all we can to work with young people who come back from the hands of ‘Daesh’.”

OSCE Secretary General Lamberto Zannier launched in 2015 the organization-wide campaign ‘OSCE United in Countering Violent Extremism’ (#UnitedCVE) to underscore that the OSCE stands together as one in countering violent extremism and radicalization leading to terrorism.