“They think of us as part of the problem instead of part of the solution” - Swedish civil society and faith based organizations in resilience building and prevention of radicalization and violent Islamist extremism

Malin E. Wimelius, Malin Eriksson, Veronika Strandh, Mehdi Ghazinour

Abstract


Radicalization and violent extremism are pressing issues on the Swedish political agenda. The local level has been identified as pivotal when it comes to preventive work and local public actors are encouraged to cooperate with civil society in efforts to promote local resilience. However, the Swedish debate on the role of civil society organizations (CSOs) and faith based organizations (FBOs) in resilience building and prevention is heated. Based on 14 interviews with representatives for secular, Christian and Muslim CSOs and FBOs, we have explored and analysed how they perceive their role in resilience building and preventive work. We have asked how they interpret local resilience against radicalization and violent extremism and what they think is needed in order to promote it. Findings are mirrored against a recent literature review on local resilience. In the interviews, there is a strong emphasis on work to strengthen social support networks, enhance community resources and build collective identity. In relation to the literature review, there are significant similarities with how resilience is defined and said to be promoted.


Keywords


Civil Society Organizations; Faith Based Organizations; Resilience; Prevention; Radicalization; Islamist Violent Extremism; Sweden

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References


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