The Observatory for the Prevention of Violent Extremism gets under way in Barcelona

OPEVLast January, 320 representatives of 172 organisations of society and social movements from 22 countries met in Barcelona with the aim of preventing violent extremism. The meeting produced an action plan on behalf of Euro Mediterranean civil society in order to prevent violent extremism in all its forms.[1] The plan includes the creation of the Observatory for the Prevention of Violent Extremism (OPEV),[2] in order to provide support for the plan’s execution.

The action plan focuses on the fundamental idea that basing the fight against violent extremism on anti-terrorist measures leaves out civil society, which boasts vital energy to generate social cohesion and, consequently, the prevention of violent radicalisation, and confront factors which favour this. In this direction, the creation of open, fair, inclusive and plural societies, based on respect for human rights, constitutes a solid and attractive alternative to violent radicalism.

Violent extremism erodes the foundations of our society, promotes hatred and discrimination and makes living together peacefully impossible. Extremism is based on political, social or religious ideas which reject the status quo and which are based on totalitarian, fanatical, intolerant, anti-democratic and anti-plural values. They intend to meet their objectives with violence, and as extreme as necessary. The enemy is often taken to be an ethnic group, an ideology, a religion or a social class and practically advocates its extinction.

The presence of violent extremism in the Euro Mediterranean region is very significant. This benefits from the presence of Jihadist groups which promote indiscriminate violence, and extreme right-wing populist, racist, anti-Islamic movements, which pressure governments towards intolerance, hatred and cuts in rights which, in practice, affect specific groups, and which can only serve to worsen the problem in the future.

Next 21 September the OPEV is presenting its first report on the evolution of anti-terrorist legislation in the region and the consequences that legislative reform may have on violent radicalisation, with the intention of setting up a forum to reflect on this issue in order to help to find pacifying solutions.

[1] Vid. http://novact.org/2017/01/plan-action-civil-society-of-the-euromediterranean-region-for-the-prevention-of-all-forms-violent-extremism/

[2] Vid. http://novact.org/2017/02/web-opev/

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