Experts convened to discuss the widening influence of violent extremist groups and the possibility of developing counter-narratives to challenge it at a conference hosted by the EastWest Institute in cooperation with the Hollings Center for International Dialogue in Istanbul.
In recent years, violent extremist groups such as ISIS, Al Qaeda and al Shabab have developed unprecedented techniques of disseminating ideological propaganda and creating a larger recruitment pool. ISIS, in particular, has embraced a sophisticated media strategy, appealing to young minds through a crafted ‘clash of the civilizations’ rhetoric, broadcast through heavy online engagement via numerous social media channels.
A roundtable discussion organized by the EastWest Institute in cooperation with the Hollings Center for International Dialogue in Istanbul, Turkey on April 27-29, 2015—and featuring experts from the Middle East, North Africa, Europe, and the U.S.—analyzed this recent phenomenon as well as the possibility of developing counter-narratives to challenge it.
The discussion focused on the various narratives at play and emphasized the harmfulness of equating extremism with religion. The participants’ recommendations highlighted the potential of the international community to stabilize inflicted states and create an inclusive atmosphere, as well as the need for responsible mainstream media to dispel prejudices.