Why deradicalization education is ineffective in Europe

By Ai Jun Source:Global Times Published: 2018/8/14 22:38:40

European media and human rights experts who are busy criticizing China may need to press the pause button and take a look at the religious radicalization of their own countries.

According to media reports, about one-fifth of Islamic State fighters are residents or nationals of Western European countries, and among every 1 million Belgians or Swedes, more than 30 are jihadists. The terror attack against the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo in January 2015 in Paris once shocked the world. Not soon after people found out that two of the gunmen were born in France.

To cope with radicalization from the inside, European nations have spared no effort. Facial recognition technology is being tested for use in surveillance operations in the UK. France has been spying on its citizens for years as part of its counter-terrorist system. Brussels set up a center for the prevention of violent radicalization by helping local young Muslims raise their sense of belonging to Belgium.

The results are not ideal. Take France. Manuel Valls, former French prime minister, vowed in 2016 to open a dozen anti-radicalization centers in each region of the country to curb would-be jihadists from carrying out violence. But the country's first and only de-radicalization center, officially known as the Center for Prevention, Integration and Citizenship, was shut down in July, 2017. Given that it was a voluntary program, no one was forced to join. The center launched with a total nine participants and ended up eventually with none at all. People cannot help but ask is this the right solution to prevent terrorism? Can anyone expect a potential extremist to raise his hand and say he might need a counselor as he has become radicalized?

"Deradicalization is a murky, unsettled science," according to The Atlantic magazine. It is a complexity confronted by the globe and each country is exploring its own way. Germany is focusing on how to prevent radicals integrating into its own community. Saudi Arabia is concentrating on providing education programs for recruited jihadists and even finding them jobs and wives. China, in the meantime, is turning to strict preventative measures according to laws while promoting relevant courses, psychological guidance and skill training.

The West is treating deradicalization on its own soil and in other nations with a double standard, which ultimately made itself victim. The impact of extreme religious thought cannot be underestimated. Certain radicalized religious doctrines request people not to cry when their family member passes away and not to sing and dance when their family members marry. Such doctrines affect regular religious activities, ordinary people's lives and eventually shock social stability. They are the common enemy of the entire world.

The ways China has adopted for deradicalization are more stringent, yet they worked. Europe's methods are less effective, but that does not necessarily mean that Beijing is simply doing better in this regard. It is a common challenge faced by all and it is time to set aside conflicts over different values to prevent radicalism from globalizing. Otherwise, this double standard will jeopardize Europe's own stability.

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