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    • Drivers of Extremism of Serbia’s Youth

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    • Date: 14 June 2019
      photo: Centar e8
      photo: Centar e8

      Continuous education and the active role of institutions are effective ways of combating extremism, it was emphasized at the MAN 2019 conference dedicated to the understanding and prevention of extremism in which the Executive Director of the Belgrade Centre for Security Policy (BCSP) Predrag Petrovic participated on 14 June 2019 in Belgrade.

      BCSP Executive Director Predrag Petrovic talked about the shortcomings of the education system and the lack of critical thinking among young people, as well as the crisis of democracy and the growth of populism. He emphasized that these are the main factors that make young people more vulnerable to mechanisms for extremist groups’ recruitment, along with poverty and high unemployment.

      Petrovic conveyed the experiences of the BCSP research team from the field in Novi Pazar, where the interlocutors recognized that young people leave as foreign fighters to Syria and Iraq primarily due to the bad economic situation.

      “State capture by political parties results in a very low confidence among young people in institutions, who notice that only belonging to a political party has an impact on getting employment. They are increasingly retreating into the private sphere and trust only family and friends. Although this seems positive, it was demonstrated that the closest environment has the highest impact on youth radicalisation,” Petrovic said.

      Young people cannot meet their needs through formal channels and institutions, which is why they accept extremist ideology, Petrovic emphasized.

      "While researching extremism, right-wing extremism must not be neglected, because right-wing, Islamic and other extremisms strengthen one another. This is evident in the latest extremist attacks in New Zealand and Sri Lanka," Petrovic concluded.

      Luka Bozovic from the Helsinki Committee for Human Rights in Serbia pointed out the importance of informal youth education in the fight against violent extremism.

      Myassa Kraitt of the Extremism Information Centre highlighted the problem of young people at risk who, due to insufficient social integration, were recruited into extremist groups.

      "Extremism is always referred to as ‘others’ extremism’, who are poor and deprived, and never as the elite's extremism," explained Kraitt, through current examples of Austrian everyday life.

      From the sociological perspective, Marina Blagojevic Hughson of the Institute of Criminological and Sociological Research highlighted the emergence of political masculinities and special kinds of patriarchy which produce and reproduce gender roles. Blagojevic Hughson underlined the connection between war, masculinity, and extremist behaviour, and thus explained the reproduction of constant state of war as a social structure. On the other hand, a more frequent radicalization of women can be attributed to consequences of violence that remains unreported due to mistrust in institutions, said Serani Siegel from the OSCE.

      The research on the policies of extreme right-wing organizations that are supported by the value system based on xenophobia, nationalism and traditionalism was presented by Marija Srdic from the Anti-Fascist Coalition and the Women's Support Centre.

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