The radicalization of individuals based on religious beliefs is a complex and multifaceted phenomenon, which requires that policymakers who focus on maintaining peace develop strategies to handle it. In the United Arab Emirates, prosperity, luxury, and security are essential elements that cannot be left in the hands of a few radicalized people. In the recent past, the UAE, like many other countries in the Gulf region, has come to recognize that Islamist groups present an existential threat to their social, political, and economic fabric which was largely untouched during the Arab Spring. In order to counteract the activities of extremist groups in the region, the country has embraced an integrated approach to coordinate multiple activities and programs aimed at deradicalizing the youth. In addition, the government is working closely with civil rights groups and professional groups in the private sector to identify appropriate ways for dealing with extremist teachings in Islam. To achieve this aim, the people involved must overcome several challenges with regard to the implementation of counter violent extremism strategies. Continued investment in the process of training and the empowerment of communities to live beyond religious and cultural differences will serve a big role in a multicultural country such as the UAE.
The United Arab Emirates and the Minds of Muslims
In the wake of the extremism and terrorism elements in the Middle East, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) has emerged as a voice of reason. It is reminding people of the country and region about the tolerant principles and purpose of Islam. There are various reasons that have helped the UAE stand up for peace and engage in dialog with people who may hold extreme views and call for the implementation of Sharia Law in the country. The problem of Muslim extremists in the Middle East has to do with the religious and political struggle to control some of the regions. As a modern state, the UAE is at the forefront of a champion religious tolerance and the rights of people who belong to other religions (Rothman, 2015). Indeed, the UAE is the only Muslim country in the Middle East that permits other religious groups to build places of worship and to worship freely without interference from the state. In order to promote peaceful coexistence and guard against religious extremism in the country, the UAE has embarked on a process to implement strategies that promote peace while also combating the threat of rising extremism in the region (Carpenter, Levitt & Jacobson, 2010). This paper advances the argument that dealing with the issue of radicalization and extremism in the UAE requires a collaboration of internal and external partners. The collaboration should address the causes and challenges facing the entire process of de-radicalization and countering violent extremism in the country and the region.
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To achieve the objective of examining the UAE’s current practice of combating extremism in the minds of Muslims, published documents will be analyzed and assessed to identify the trend. There will also be an evaluation of reports from government agencies and institutions like Hedayah and Sawab on their role in preventing radicalization or extreme views about Islam and people from other cultures. The assessment will include the practices in Abu Dhabi and Dubai, two of the leading cities in the country. The sources of information present precise information about the current practices being used to guard against false teachings and radicalization in Islam. They also have information regarding the policies that the government has enacted in response to increased cases of terrorism in the Islamic world. However, there have some limitations. In particular, the divergence of the views presented and the actual practice in parts of the UAE aside from Abu Dhabi and Dubai were not collected. As such, it is difficult to determine whether this approach is applicable to other cities within the UAE.
The rise of terrorist groups in the Islamic world has created a sense of urgency among countries like the UAE to start campaigns to counter these activities. Reports from various sources indicate the young people from all over the world are attracted to extremist teachings about Islam and they are joining their course in droves. The result has been continued bloodshed in many parts of the world. Cases of students being murdered in their learning institutions as was the case at Garissa University in Kenya, the unending civil wars in Syria, Yemen, Iraq and much of the Islamic world is associated with the radicalization of the youth who are easily influenced by terrorist organizations. One of the challenging aspects in the provision of measures to counter violent extremism in Islam is that the extremists try to establish a link between politics and religion. To this end, they distort the religious message for their own interests.
As a result, many countries are uniting in the fight against radicalization by providing resources and systems to counteract the messages that indoctrinate the youth and lead them to join terrorist groups. The UAE stands at a strategic position in the Middle East because of its great strides towards modernization and economic progress when compared to most other countries in the region. Because of its strategic position, the UAE faces great threats from radical Islam, especially because of its open policies to embrace people from different cultures and faiths. UAE is the leading country in the Middle East in terms of the number of churches and other places of worship aside from Islam. Dubai is also a major transit center for travelers from many parts of the world. Because of these factors, the government in UAE has been collaborating with other partners to fight against radical Islam and in particular the misrepresentation of the Islamic religion (Rothman, 2015).
The campaign to prevent radicalization is targeted at terrorist groups like ISIS and Al-Qaeda. But the campaign is also focused on the citizens of the country through internal policing, training, and empowerment to enable the people to identify and reject misrepresented teachings about Islam. To achieve this, plans have been put in place to bring together people with knowledge and intellect about Islam and identify ways to counteract such teachings. There is also a need to provide opportunities to the young people who are most easily lured into radicalism without knowing exactly what they are entering into. The programs are formed along the lines of ensuring responsibility and enlightenment to the people through religious teachings to respect human diversity, embrace peace and harmony, and encourage the coexistence of people from different parts of the world (Carpenter, Levitt & Jacobson, 2010). These activities are not strictly formulated along the lines of having definite consensus but are based on the understanding that learning is a continuous process that everyone should embrace if they want to learn about other people. The activities are not an attempt to impose certain views on a few people, as happens in radicalization, but instead to allow everyone the right to think and apply what they learn constructively in the societies where they live.
Proactive Foreign Policy to Deal with Extremist Groups
The leadership in the UAE has been championing a foreign policy that includes engaging in proxy wars with terrorist groups such as ISIS and Al Qaeda, which have created instability in the region. The leadership of the country has often reiterated that the declaration of a new Islamic caliphate by the terrorist group ISIS and the atrocities that have been committed in the name of Islam are antithetical to the governance vision of the UAE. As a result, the top leadership in the country has taken upon itself to enlighten the public about the danger of a few people who want to impose their own interpretation of Islam on society. Stopping the activities that indoctrinate people to fight in the name of Islam is therefore crucial in terms of the bigger goal of eliminating the spread of religious extremism in the region. The UAE has established itself as a leader in military cooperation against ISIS and in the process has earned regional prestige and support as a champion of peace (Carpenter, Levitt & Jacobson, 2010).
Some people in the Middle East have accused the UAE of being pawns of the West. However, the UAE has emphasized that its participation in fighting against extremism and promoting peace and coexistence in the country and region is not an attempt to win the approval of the US and Europe, but a genuine desire to destroy what the leadership considers to be the greatest threat to free thinking Islam and stability in the Islamic world (Carpenter, Levitt & Jacobson, 2010). The decision to spearhead conferences and seminars aimed at condemning those who perpetrate crimes and terror activities is welcomed. It is in line with the country’s history of supporting campaigns against indoctrinating Islamic teachings of groups such as the Muslim Brotherhood and more recently, ISIS. As such, the UAE is directly involved in campaigns against activities that are aimed at tarnishing the peaceful message of Islam among the Muslims themselves and the world at large. The UAE has increased its efforts to suppress dangerous political dissents by arresting a number of activists who engage in confrontation and extremism. Many of them have been charged, or in the case of foreigners, deported to their home countries. There is also a campaign to crack down on online extremism from people who may want to use the Internet to spread hatred among the citizens in the country (Grant, 2015). Some of the laws that have been passed are meant to ensure that peaceful coexistence is achieved throughout the Emirates.
The process of fighting against religious extremists and violent forms of Islam has taken many shapes in the UAE. The country remains an Islamic state, but the leaders have emphasized the importance of integration and acceptance as the founding pillars upon which the country was built. The focus on cultural and traditional values of the people in the Emirates, as well as the need to embrace modernity, have also informed some of the activities that the leadership implements in promoting free-thinking and rational practice of Islam and Islamic teachings. Recognizing the need for a rational voice and emphasis on the principle of respect for diversity, the UAE, under the direction of the Minister of Culture, has sought to promote the concept of humanity as encompassing people with different religious views, cultural practices, and convictions. The religious leaders who enjoy the responsibility of guiding the people spiritually must endeavor to inform the public on the correct teachings of Islam and look for common areas where people with different views can work together for the sake of peace and tranquility.
Promoting Peace and Diversity within the Communities
In order to address the challenge of promoting peace and diversity within the community, it is important to involve some of the UAE’s religious leaders and influential thinkers. These people have been brought together at seminars or conferences to talk about the importance of upholding peaceful coexistence and ensuring that the right message of Islam is communicated to both Muslims and adherents of other faiths around the world. There have been efforts to directly engage with religious leaders in forums and seminars to discuss the needs, changes, and requirements for people who practice the Islamic faith but who also want to leave peacefully with other communities. The leadership of the country realizes that it cannot live in isolation in a globalized world, as many of its Arab neighbors in the Middle East do. For this reason, the country is investing heavily in activities that seek to uncover ignorance about Islam culture and civilization, and lead to a re-examination of the many Islamic issues such as Sharia, which must be rationally balanced in their application while upholding human rights and the freedom of religion (Islamic State advises Jihadists to visit CAGE website, 2015). The aim is to empower influential religious leaders by providing them with the skills to preach a positive message about Islam in the UAE (Kruse, 2014). As a growing country, the UAE seeks to promote a positive image of modernity, tolerance, and openness with the West associated with five-star hotels and restaurants. The UAE recognizes that images of Muslim extremists will scare tourists and investors away from Dubai and Abu Dhabi. However, the country is also genuinely concerned about the desecration of the image of Islam by a few people who have developed a strict, radical interpretation of the Koran.
As an important feature in the fight for the rational application of Islamic teachings, the UAE organizes seminars where Islamic scholars and academicians are brought together to engage in enlightened discussions with the community. The teachings presented in this forum are tailored to promote Islam as a religion that embraces human rights and diversity and, therefore, the historic role of teachers to counter sedition of any different point of views that deviate from the teachings of Islam. The leadership of the country is also concerned with the humanitarian issues that are caused by the intellectual and sectarianism in the application of Islamic teachings in the Middle East. To stop these teachings, it is important to identify the root cause of the problems, some of which include differences in both political and religious views. The separation of state and religion is something that is difficult to achieve in the Islamic world as many of those who are in the country’s top leadership positions also have a connection to the religious world (Carpenter, Levitt & Jacobson, 2010). As such, it is important to emphasize that the fight against extremism is targeted both by religious and political groupings that seem to cause division and war a region that is in much need for peace and reconciliation.
The fight against extremism and terrorism by the UAE is largely driven by the economic power and the need for the leaders to prove a point in the Middle East. In the recent past, UAE military personnel have worked alongside other countries such as Saudi Arabia and the United States to launch airstrikes against ISIS and other terrorist groups operating under the guise of Islam. The UAE is making individual contributions alongside other countries like Jordan, Qatar, and Bahrain to combat religious extremism in the region. The UAE has a leading role in the war against groups that support terror and intolerance, and this is in line with its foreign policy that seeks to take advantage of the transformations brought about during the Arab Spring. As traditional superpowers in the Middle East such as Egypt have been weakened by government instability, the UAE with its massive economic powers and military capacity is flexing its muscles in the region to prevent the escalation of extremism and terrorism (Islamic State advises Jihadists to visit CAGE website, 2015).
In order to provide for security and ensure that the country is positioned as a beacon of religious diversity and tolerance of different cultural views, the government of the UAE has invested in institutions that have the mission to promote rational thinking for many citizens in the country. This includes enlightening the law-abiding citizens about identifying infiltrators from ISIS and other extremist groups into the UAE (Rothman, 2015). One of the biggest concerns is the possibility of importing radical Islam into the UAE by people who are opposed to peace and stability in the country, and also those who may want to see UAE plunged into war like its neighbors. Thus, the efforts and initiatives that are put in place are meant to prevent the infiltration of extremists and radicals into the country. This is done by sensitizing the public about the teachings of Islam and encouraging them to report people with suspicious activities to the authorities for investigation and possible prosecution.
Use of Institutional Centers to Engage the Public and Intellectuals on Radicalization
One of the instruments used to educate the public in the fight against extremism is the Sawab Center, which is an initiative by the governments of the United Arab Emirates and the United States in support of the Global Coalition against ISIS. Through this center, the government is able to work in a global coalition environment with individuals and organizations that target extreme and radicalized versions of Islam. By doing so, it works with members of the Global Coalition around the world, as well as many other engaged individuals and organizations in order to counter ISIS propaganda and reveal its true criminal nature and intent. The Sawab mission is fully supported by the government and encourages people to take a stand against religious extremism. This platform provides an opportunity for millions of Muslims in the UAE and around the world to unite against terrorism and false teachings of ISIS. For such institutions, the government has opened up online communication channels and social media to encourage a peaceful perspective and amplify the many moderate voices that are often drowned out by the radicals and extremists.
To achieve this vision, the UAE government in conjunction with other entities has put in place measures that promote diversity in religion, ethnicities, culture and foster peaceful coexistence and respect for culture and creed. The government also invests heavily in economic development. One of the reasons many people are easily convinced to join terror groups is because they are not educated or lack jobs. For that, the government heavily invests in educational facilities and creates opportunities for employment and personal progress for all its citizens. The youth is of particular interest because they make up a large portion of those who embrace radical or extremist teachings in the name of Islam. The government has also invested in structure to ensure transparency in sharing information about the extremists who are abusing the religion of Islam for their own purposes (Rothman, 2015). It also encourages tolerance of opinions and creeds while ensuring that there is a healthy discussion about Islam and its teaching. In addition, most of the activities are also aimed at ensuring that there is moderation in the voices that represent Islam in schools, public places, and many other diverse manifestations of Islam.
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In order to achieve these objectives, the UAE government must work together with global partners to fight the proliferation of false teachings in Islam. The global partnership would also ensure that there is peace in places like Iraq and Syria, which have been devastated by Islamic extremism and radicalism, in an attempt to prevent the same from spreading to other places in the region (Salama, 2015). The collaboration with partners is practiced at five different levels. The first one is the support of military operations, building capacity, and offering training services to the people charged with the responsibility of protecting the citizen from ISIS and other propaganda information. The second level is the strategies aimed at stopping the flow of foreign terrorist fighters inside and outside of the borders of the UAE. Terrorists moving from one country to another are likely to facilitate activities such as smuggling, child trafficking, and other illegal activities. The government of the UAE has put in place strategies to prevent foreign terrorists from using Dubai as the center of transit to other parts of the world. The third level is focused on preventing the ability of the terror groups and organizations to access financing and funding. The measures put in place ensure verification of all financial transactions that happening through the country’s banking system to detect suspicious activities and stop them before they occur. Fourth, the government is also availing the resources to address the humanitarian crises emanating from war-torn countries like Syria, Iraq, Libya, and Yemen. By helping refugees who have been displaced as a result of war, they get to express the importance of tolerance and openness when it comes to discussions about religion and the teachings of that particular religion (Grant, 2015). Finally, there are plans to expose terrorism and extremism for their true nature, much of which many people know nothing about. When they are exposed, people can decide whether to continue following certain teachings of Islam.
The need for sustained dialog with various parties is also an area that the government is undertaking to sensitize the people against radical interpretations of Islam. One of the institutions that the government is using to empower the people is the Hedayah. This institution has the mission of serving as the premier international institution for training, dialog, collaboration, and research to counter violent extremism in all of its manifestations. It has worked in support of long-term, global efforts to prevent and counter-terrorism. To achieve this mission, the institution works closely with government agencies through dialog and collaboration. This allows for focusing the effort to combat extremism by availing the platform where collaborative discussions can be achieved at the national and regional levels (Habboush, 2014).
The platform also brings together the stakeholders in the discussion of peace and rational practice of Islam including notable speakers, researchers, civil societies, community leaders, and the general public. In a sense, this strategy helps to create a platform where people can discuss regional peace and identify some of the practices in the name of Islam that could be hampering these efforts (Rothman, 2015). The other area on which the government has invested in is training opportunities and enabling the building of capacity. The government of the UAE is utilizing the tools and resources to enhance the capacity of government and non-government players in designing and implementing programs for effective policy implementation and counter-extremism. Furthermore, there is an increased allocation of resources for research and analysis, which helps to document the trend in ISIS propaganda and identify better ways for dealing with the problem (Habboush, 2014). Through research and analysis, the law enforcement entities and security agencies are able to undermine the potential drivers of violent radicalism and hence identify effective ways to counter the problem.
The implementation of strategies to countering violent extremism is a work of collaborative entities including the Abu Dhabi Memorandum on good practices of education. It also looks at practices of countering violent extremism by focusing on how education could be used to prevent and counter violent extremism. The Muslim Council of Elders, which is supported by the government agencies, is aimed at defining the nation’s priorities in relation to the teachings of Islam and therefore identifies and promotes approaches that ensure security and peace. UAE is working in partnership with like-minded countries to build the capacity of agencies to counter violent extremism by identifying channels to counter radical messages through social media and other communication channels. The effort for countering violent extremism is also focused on identifying areas for collaboration and consensus within local Muslim communities as well as Muslim countries on a broader level (Salama, 2015). The programs that different agencies have developed are also focused on enhancing the confidence of people from different cultures and creeds to embrace their ties with mutual respect for people of different cultures as a way of promoting peace and harmony.
Promotional of Globalization and Economic Empowerment
One of the current challenges facing so many people in the Middle East and elsewhere in the world is the level of globalization and modernity. Due to rapid advances in technology and transportation, global communication and travel have never been easier (Habboush, 2014). Communication has improved tremendously with the growth of the Internet and in particular social media where people are able to share information instantaneously. Furthermore, growth in urbanization around the world is leading to higher levels of mixing of culture and faiths. As a result, their people who find it difficult to accept the differences in people from different backgrounds. This serves as a source of hatred or radicalization because people are taught to view others differently. The mission for the Muslim Council of Elders which is supported by the government of UAE is to guide Muslims and other residents in the country in finding ways to deal with different cultures and the otherness in people they meet. The emphasis is put on the fact that diversity should be celebrated rather than become a source of hatred and violence. The youth are given the opportunity to interact with people from different cultural backgrounds, which teaches them to appreciate and live in peace and harmony with others. It is also a way of helping people to end corruption and embrace sustainable solutions in the promotion of peace in the communities (Habboush, 2014). The Muslim Council of Elders, which is supported by the government, is also mandated with the responsibility of identifying ways to promote Islamic values when dealing with Muslim and non-Muslim persons. This ensures that people with selfish interests do not have an opportunity to distort the message of peace which is the foundation of Islam. In this way, the entities involved are able to deal with one another with mutual respect within the communities and between nations.
The process of enhancing the level of engagement with organizations and institutions dealing with human rights and religious freedom is important for the attainment of a deradicalized society. For many government agencies in the UAE and much of the Middle Eastern world, the implementation of anti-radical machination is evidenced in the identification of causes for disgruntlement and disenchantment with some teachings in Muslim society. It, therefore, suggests relevant and appropriate ways of addressing the sources of conflict (Rothman, 2015). This is achieved by working together with the agencies that deal with helping the communities to move beyond the issues of extremism and radicalization in their location. It also calls for collaboration between various stakeholders and commitment to enlightening the community with information and knowledge to go beyond incitement and hateful practices (Muslim Council of Elders, 2015). Thus, there have been efforts directed at promoting mental and spiritual peace and security with the aim of creating harmony between different societies. The aim is to achieve the five principles as highlighted in Islamic teaching. These include the preservation of religion, honor, self, mind, and wealth. These actions are aimed at facilitating the country’s immunity against extremism from every angle. The government also works to correct misconceptions, especially about religion, and ensure that there are no misinterpretations or ambiguity in the teachings, which can detract people from a peaceful course.
The government is also working to promote and spread the culture and jurisprudence of peace in most of the societies where Muslims live with the view to protecting their rights and enable them to serve a higher purpose in their communities. It is also involved in prioritizing and creating an understanding of reality for human and national interests to prevail over personal interests. The government, through institutions such as Hedayah and Sawab, is also bringing together thinkers, scholars, and philosophers to serve as a center for national conscience and identify areas in culture, intellect, and reference from which the Muslim community can draw inspiration (Kruse, 2014). These scholars are also creating a discourse on priority areas where the needs of young people can be met and help them to achieve their aspirations along with encouraging them to work for peace and reject radicalization or hateful thinking. The implementation of these initiatives goes back to the ability to coordinate and collaborate with international organizations and centers of excellence where intellectual information is produced to allow for the promotion of peace, dialog, and tolerance among the communities in the society. These institutions are playing an important role in correcting some of the misconceptions about Islam while promoting peace using a clear and accurate Islamic blueprint (Tomorrow’s world: Inside the minds of Arab youth, 2015). They are also charged with the responsibility of clarifying the theoretical underpinning of the origins of misconceptions and lay ground for understanding the reality of Islam and its teachings to the people.
The Challenge to Counter Extremist Violence in UAE
While the UAE and other partners like the UK, US, Egypt, Algeria have made big steps in launching an offensive against ISIS and enacting education programs through organizations like the Center of Excellence for Countering Extreme Violence, these countries face many challenges. The first one is the use of social media and the Internet by extremists to spread propaganda and violent messages. These messages are packaged as religious teachings and obligations to the youth. The Internet, and social media in particular, is a powerful tool that reaches millions of young people around the world. As such, a single propaganda message can be transmitted instantaneously. Fighting against such messages is not only difficult but also costly in terms of resources and time. However, as policymakers on foreign affairs have indicated, the same channel of communication also forms the launch pad for fighting extremism. Governments across the world should also deploy efforts to utilize social media to spread messages of tolerance and hope for young people who are the main victims of radicalization (Grant, 2015). These messages should be packaged not in the name of religion as a way of countering the narrative of extremism, but to promote an alternative narrative of inclusion and tolerance for other people’s faiths and cultures.
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The need for resources to encourage the youth to stand up against extremism and serve as alternative voices in the world is also pressing. However, these voices must be nurtured through training and empowerment to enable them to play an important role. Calls have been made at the national and international levels to invest in global education even for extremists who might be acting out of ignorance. The aim is to convince these people to support de-radicalization programs through education and empowerment. However, there is a danger in all these because some of the people who have been trained and empowered nonetheless join terrorist and extreme groups. This means that the resources that have gone into training them have ironically benefited the extremists rather than assisting to fight against them (Grant, 2015).
It is therefore important that thorough screening of the people who denounce radical Islam and extremist violence is done before they are released into the public as ambassadors of peace and harmony. Supporting such people should go beyond the provision of a platform where they can tell their narratives. It ought to ensure that these people are educated and given opportunities to constructively contribute to society. However, education is not the panacea to the problem of radicalization. In countries like the UK and the US, highly educated young people are known to have embraced radicalization (Salama, 2015). This means that there are other factors apart from a lack of education that contributes to the problem of radicalization and intolerance of other people’s views or faith.
Another challenge facing the fight against extremism is the long list of factors that cause young people to resort to extremism in the community. There is a need to identify these factors as a means of influencing the decisions that these young people make later when they encounter indoctrinating messages about their religion or other people. Some countries such as the United Kingdom are using resources to train the public servants with the objective of empowering them to address the causes of extremism (Grant, 2015). These efforts are also reflected in the educational system whereby regional coordinators are given the mandate to manage the risks associated with combating extremism. The learning institutions are also provided with the systems and tools to help them prevent the promotion of radicalized views about certain claims, which are not compatible with the teachings of Islam.
The understanding that terrorism and extremist influence is an international problem that knows no boundaries means that working with partners becomes very essential. These mean that governments and institutions will ultimately need to work with entities that do not share the same views. As observed by Habboush, “extremist ideas can only be defeated when people are free to challenge them” (Habboush, 2014). This recognition should also be passed down to violent and non-violent extremism, both of which have the capacity to spread radical messages and instigate violence among the people in the world. Civil society also plays a crucial role in fighting against extremism by providing information to the relevant authorities. Similarly, the use of technology is seen as an opportunity for the government and other entities to continue countering messages that incite violence and extremism. The government and civil societies are in front to ensure that young people from the center of approach in order to have a credible and hopeful alternative to hate messages.
Conclusion and Recommendations
The government of UAE, through various security agencies, has invested heavily in the prevention of extremism and radicalization both in and outside of the country. The use of modern communication systems to counter radicalization is seen as one of the best ways to counter the impact of radicalization in the country and the Middle East as a whole. Through a culture of tolerance, society is able to understand the issues that drive violent extremism and identify ways to develop new approaches to tackle the problem. The changing nature of terrorism and extremism requires collaboration from global partners since instability in one country is likely to affect other countries. As terror groups adopt more advanced methods of recruiting members, there is also a need to enhance the provision of better empowerment and training to the people involved in counteracting the extreme violence. The implementation of the programs to bring together scholars and intellectuals in the area of Islam demonstrates the awareness about the correct teaching of Islam and tailor the message to meet the needs of the people. Through effective training and empowerment, a large number of people can be drawn to the message of peace and harmony in countries where religious strife and violence have been common.
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The community and institutions must work together to enhance the level and effectiveness of the response to cases of radicalization and ensure there is a cohesive approach to dealing with these cases. Understanding the needs of the most vulnerable groups is essential for the proper allocation of time and resources to challenge the extremist ideas and help people to move away from radical groups. Many of the people who end up serving in terror groups do not do so of their free will. They are often presented with only one option. The government in partnership with other institutions should provide the alternative option for the young people facing the quagmire of joining radicalized groups. This alternative option should be available for young people to choose, especially at a time when many of them are unemployed. There is also the need to continue investing in cohesion and harmony-building activities where people are educated about their rights and taught to communicate effectively with those who might be considering joining a terrorist organization. The inner conviction that individuals can think for themselves and make good decisions should also be explored as a means of counteracting violent extremism in the country as well as neighboring countries. There is also a need to challenge the communities to build consensus around some of the most emotive issues without asking them to put in practice the things that they might not agree with. The activities aiming to empower the people should be based on the evidence. It will ensure that there is a thorough understanding of the factors that promote extreme views with the intent to appreciate the most appropriate and effective ways to respond to the threats as they emerge.
In conclusion, the fight against radicalization and extremist views cannot be left to just one country or one institution. Given that those who recruit the youth into extremism target the most vulnerable in the community, there is a need to focus on addressing the causative factors. It is also good to ensure that the youth are well equipped with the knowledge to counter radical views about Islam. More importantly, people need to be taught about coexistence without feeling threatened by someone from a different religion or a different culture. The aim should be to foster peace and harmony in communities while changing the hearts and minds of those who are inclined to perpetrating war and terror in their own communities. The government of the UAE is working in collaboration with other governments and entities across the world to enlighten the people about Islam and counter-extremism teachings. It is also empowering the youth who are the most vulnerable to radical messages because they lack education or job to do. Working together with the youth provides the opportunity for intellectuals and scholars to identify the cause for disgruntlement or dissatisfaction and therefore develop systems to enhance the provision of a secure and peaceful environment where everyone can live in peace.