Strong Cities joined partners across Europe earlier this week at the Preventing Violent Extremism and Terrorism – Challenges and Responses conference which took place in Stockholm as part of Sweden’s Presidency of the Council of the EU. The event tackled a range of issues from online radicalisation and preventing lone actor attacks to prosecution and reintegration processes, with national, local, academic and civil society stakeholders engaging with new and forthcoming research, policy initiatives and practitioner tools. Cities and local governments in the EU and beyond may find the following to be of particular interest:
- The EUTEx project looking at good practices to establish a European framework for disengagement and reintegration of terrorist offenders. A number of Strong Cities members are tackling rehabilitation and reintegration efforts, whether of families of foreign terrorist fighters or of offenders themselves. Distilling good practices in this field and can help better respond to the gaps and challenges faced by local governments, which are often responsible for wider reintegration in the community.
- A forthcoming “right-wing extremism symbol lexicon” handbook produced by the Government of the Netherlands (currently in Dutch only) to support practitioners in identifying more than 150 symbols associated with violent right-wing extremism and terrorist organisations. This aims to support a number of local community practitioners with understanding and recognising symbols and graphite daubed in public places and schools, which might alert authorities to the activities of individuals and groups in a particular area, including potential security threats, hate incidents and wider community tensions.
- New analysis of online conspiracy and coordinated mass influence campaigns which seek to divide communities and inspire hate, including a forthcoming study of a 2022 campaign targeting Swedish social services. Local communities, and in this case public services administered by municipalities, face the real-life consequences of such campaigns and yet often have no relationship with media companies and a limited understanding of the online activities and coordination involved. They also may not be aware of the online campaign until its offline effects are already being felt in the community, or they may want to support local services and/or particular communities under attack and help raise awareness of facts surrounding public services.
The themes of this conference aligned strongly with Strong Cities’ focus on transatlantic dialogue initiative focusing on sharing lessons between mayors and cities in Europe and North America on preventing hate, extremism and polarisation and safeguarding local democracy, spearheaded by The Hague Mayoral Declaration. You can read the ‘top ten takeaways’ from this initiative by clicking here.
Strong Cities is grateful to the Swedish Ministry of Justice, the Swedish Centre for Preventing Violent Extremism and to partners at the European Union for this event.