A group of security experts have said rule of law is critically important to counter extremism in society which differentiates between terrorists and others.
“Radicalisation and terrorism need to be solved holistically. Technical approaches will never give a long-term solution. The rule of law is critically important and differentiates us from the terrorists. It gives us a high moral ground,” security analyst ANM Muniruzzaman told a seminar.
Bangladesh Institute of Peace and Security Studies (BIPSS) organised the discussion styled ‘Countering Violent Extremism: Building Resilience and Capacity’.
The seminar was organised at a hotel in the capital in association with the Canadian government on Wednesday, 8 March.
BIPSS president and a retired major general Muniruzzaman also said, "So-called crossfire is not a solution."
He said that a series of recent incident attracted the attention of concerned stakeholders and emphasised the need to resolve the matter before it got out of hand.
Presenting the paper on ‘Countering the Extremist Narrative’, retired brigadier general Shahedul Anam Khan, also associate editor of The Daily Star, said a kinetic approach is needed to counter violent extremism.
“To a man with a hammer, every problem is a nail. However, everything did not merit a counter approach or the use of force. It was important to determine why the message of the extremists resonates with some. Then a strategy could be devised to counter the extremist narrative.”
Anam said that the grounds on which the extremists strut their narrative would have to be removed. “This would have to be done by the state and there was a role in this regard t be played by the ‘dropouts’ or former terrorists, their families, the youth and the media.”
High Commission of Canada Benoit-Pierre Laramee, chief guest at the event, spoke of the importance of inclusion and diversity, as these were the strengths in uniting communities to counter terrorism.
The Canadian government was supporting the programme to build resilience against violent extremism. This included the training of a network of responders for the countering violent extremism.
Presenting his paper on ‘Youth Radicalisation’, Shafqat Munir, BIPSS Research Fellow, referred to cyber radicalisation and the reach of internet to an incalculable vast audience.
“The newly radicalised no longer needed to pack their bags and go to the Middle East any longer,” he pointed out, “the internet was enough to share operational and tactical information, bomb recipes and such. Facebook, Twitter and YouTube were widely used by self-proclaimed ISIS followers, al Qaeda affiliates and so on. Even video games were used by the extremists to reach out to youth demographic.”
Shafqat Munir said that all law enforcement must understand communication tools and be positioned to identify and prevent terror attacks.
He said it was more important to have an alternative narrative rather than a counter narrative.
“Prison is an excellent space for priming extremism,” said professor Abu Zayed Mohammed, BIPSS research fellow, presenting his paper on ‘Prison Radicalisation’.
Assessing the vulnerabilities in the prison system, he highlighted the inadequacies of the prison organisation, the process of de-humanisation within the jails, the uncertain future, the radical narrative and the process of indoctrination.
He said it was important to have rehabilitation and de-radicalisation programmes in the prisons, but there were none in Bangladesh.
The conference ended with a lively table top programme where the younger generation expressed their views, their confusions, frustrations as well as their hopes and aspirations.