CouterNarratives:Layout 1 - Counter Extremism

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Review of Programs to Counter Narratives of Violent Extremism WHAT WORKS AND WHAT ARE THE IMPLICATIONS FOR GOVERNMENT?

Rachel Briggs Sebastien Feve

This report outlines the findings of a research project conducted by the Institute for Strategic Dialogue (ISD) between December 2012 and March 2013. Commissioned by Public Safety Canada, it provides an overview of the efforts made to push back on extremist content online, or ‘counter-narratives’. It involved background research and interviews with former violent extremists, policy-makers and civil society activists. The report offers a framework for understanding counter-narratives, a series of case studies and recommendations for governments.

About the authors Rachel Briggs is Research and Policy Director at the Institute for Strategic Dialogue, where her research focuses on security, violent extremism and conflict, with a growing emphasis on the ways in which technology can be used to tackle these problems. She regularly advises governments, companies and non-governmental organisations, has published widely on these issues and comments in the international media. She is co-chair of the European Commission’s Radicalisation Awareness Network’s working group on the Internet and social media, is an advisory board member of Wilton Park (executive agency of the Foreign Office), and is Associate Editor of Renewal. She holds a senior research post at Warwick University. Rachel is also Director of Hostage UK, a charity that supports hostages and their families, and is helping to set up Hostage US. Sebastien Feve is a Programme Associate at the Institute for Strategic Dialogue, working across the the Institute’s work on security, counter-extremism and counter-terrorism. He coordinates the Policy Planners’ Network on Countering Radicalisation and Polarisation (PPN), an international network of the security and integration ministries from 11 governments: the United Kingdom, Canada, France, Germany, Netherlands, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Belgium, Finland and Spain. He is also assisting in the development of the Institute’s work on internet counter-radicalisation, and is an Advisory Board Member of Future Foreign Policy. Sebastien previously worked on the Citizens Programme at Demos.

Acknowledgements The authors would like to thank Public Safety Canada for its financial support of this project. At ISD, they are grateful to colleagues for their support and input, particularly Ross Frenett, Vidhya Ramalingam and Sasha Havlicek.

© Institute for Strategic Dialogue, 2013 This material is offered free of charge for personal and non-commercial use, provided the source is acknowledged. For commercial or any other use, prior written permission must be obtained from the Institute for Strategic Dialogue. In no case may this material be altered, sold or rented. The Institute for Strategic Dialogue does not generally take positions on policy issues. The views expressed in this publication are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the organisation.

Review of Programs to Counter Narratives of Violent Extremism WHAT WORKS AND WHAT ARE THE IMPLICATIONS FOR GOVERNMENT?

Rachel Briggs Sebastien Feve

CONTENTS Executive Summary 1




Extremist messaging



The counter-messaging spectrum



Government strategic communications



Alternative narratives 5.1 Seeding new platforms 5.2 Galvanising the silent majority 5.3 Capacity building 5.4 Challenges for government

12 13 13 14 15


Counter-narratives 6.1 Government counter-narratives 6.2 The role of formers, survivors and other credible messengers 6.3 Development and dissemination of counter-narrative products 6.4 One-to-one counter-narratives for de-radicalisation or disengagement 6.5 Counter-narratives through d