Violent extremism is a global issue. Whether it has political, ideological, racist or religious roots, the problem of youth radicalisation affects African and European societies in the same way. The common response of using coercive hard power to counter violent extremism has only limited effect and comes at a high cost, both financially and in terms of human lives.
Preventing violent extremism (PVE) and building social cohesion globally requires a comprehensive ‘soft power’ approach that focuses on the root causes rather than on the symptoms of violent extremism. Sports, arts, cultural events and activities offer effective means of dealing with differences within a community. Innovative approaches in these areas foster mutual understanding and support cooperation between different social and religious groups.
Religious leaders and organisations often play a vital role in local communities, particularly in remote areas, and are, therefore, potential key partners in the approach to PVE. Youth activists are also often already involved in community work and deeply engaged in strengthening social cohesion and PVE.
Against this background, the African Union Commission’s Directorate of Citizens and Diaspora Organizations (AUC-CIDO) and the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) have jointly launched the iDove pilot project, using innovative youth-led approaches to highlight the soft power of religion in PVE.

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