Power to the people

ABCD Innovation Center

Prevention of Violent Extremism

Recently, I had the unique opportunity to participate in a project focused on understanding and addressing the issues of Islamism and far-right extremism in Morocco. The project brought together a diverse group of participants, primarily from Arab countries, creating a rich environment for learning and dialogue.

As an Armenian, my exposure to Islamist cases has been minimal, given that such issues are not prevalent in my country. This project, therefore, presented an invaluable opportunity to delve into unfamiliar territory and gain a deeper understanding of the factors driving extremism in different parts of the world.

The first half of the project took place in Denmark and was dedicated to the theoretical aspects of the course. We explored the root causes of extremism, the various influences that drive individuals toward extremist actions, and the profound consequences these actions can have on societies. The discussions were enlightening and laid a solid foundation for the practical case studies that followed.


Understanding Islamism

Islamism is a political ideology that seeks to implement Islamic principles and laws in public and political life. While Islam, the religion, is practiced peacefully by millions around the world, Islamism advocates for the merging of religious and political authority. This ideology can vary widely, from peaceful political participation to advocating for violent jihad. Factors that contribute to the rise of Islamism include socio-economic disparities, political instability, foreign intervention, and perceived injustices against Muslims globally. The appeal of Islamism can be influenced by family, political groups, or extremist networks, and its consequences can range from social polarization to violent conflicts.

Practical Engagement in Morocco

The second half of the project was conducted in Morocco, where we engaged more deeply with specific Islamist case studies from each participant's country. This immersive experience was particularly impactful, as it allowed us to contextualize our theoretical knowledge within real-world scenarios. The Armenian team, tasked with presenting cases of far-right extremism from our country, highlighted the ultra-nationalist movements that have occurred in Armenia. This comparative approach broadened our perspectives on the different forms of extremism and their unique manifestations across various cultures.

One of the most compelling aspects of the project was listening to firsthand accounts from participants who have lived in countries deeply affected by Islamist extremism. Their stories provided a human dimension to our studies, emphasizing the personal and societal impacts of extremist actions.

Additionally, conducting the project in Morocco added a significant layer of authenticity and relevance to our discussions. Experiencing the local culture and engaging with local experts enriched our understanding of the topic and reinforced the importance of context when addressing issues of extremism.

Overall, the project was a profound learning experience. It highlighted the complexities of extremism, the varied influences that can lead individuals down this path, and the critical importance of cross-cultural dialogue in addressing such global issues. The knowledge gained and the connections made during this project will undoubtedly inform my future work and perspectives on extremism and intercultural understanding.

Moving forward, I am committed to disseminating this information among more Armenians, hoping to raise awareness and foster a deeper understanding of the issues surrounding Islamism. I also hope that this article provides valuable insights to readers who may not have been familiar with the topic, encouraging further reflection and discussion.

​Eva Karapetyan