© Eric Roset

14.6°N, 120.9°E

Violent extremism must
be tackled by studying
and addressing its economic,
social and political
root causes.
Arizza Nocum
About Arizza

Tackle grievances and instability

We can love what we are,
without hating what   
- and who - we are not.
Kofi Annan, Nobel lecture, 2001

Young people play a vital and irreplaceable role in efforts to build social resilience, bring societies together, generate prosperity and employment, and resolve personal, community and larger-scale conflicts and grievances, many of which drive radicalisation.

We feel we have a duty to improve the world we have inherited. We have been entrusted with the future, and believe our efforts and vision can recreate it.

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Local militant groups and transnational radicalised networks like ISIS exploit grievances and instability by saying that they alone bring solutions. In societies shattered by conflict, they attract recruits by offering income and employment. In countries such as Iraq or the Central African Republic, they exploit religious tensions to divide society and attract support. Most disturbingly, they have learned to exploit grievances at a personal level: the most sophisticated organisations tailor their propaganda to the specific vulnerabilities of those they approach.

Both ‘push’ and ‘pull’ factors attract young people to violent extremism. Push factors include religious, cultural, economic, political, and ethnic grievances that influence individuals and groups to commit acts of terror or political violence. Pull factors include the desire for money, power, adventure, change, or sympathy for a particular political, cultural or religious ideology. Grievances, whether real or perceived, are insufficient to turn radicalisation into violent extremism. They must be framed by extremists into binary narratives that fit personal feelings and experiences into larger political frameworks. Those who join violent extremist groups may have widely differing motivations for doing so, but may be united by a higher purpose (such as building a caliphate in the case of ISIS).


Take action

Actions to counter radicalisation need to:

We say

The most inspiring young public speaker I ever met is a girl from a suspected Abu Sayyaf hide-out area in the outskirts of Zamboanga City. She was one of our first scholars in KRIS Library.

On the day I first met her, we were celebrating another successful year of our scholarship program for children affected by conflict. I had asked the scholars to thank our donors, and she shyly raised her hand. Shorter and quieter than most of the other girls, she wore a bright white hijab that distinguished her from the crowd. As I handed her the microphone, I worried for a moment that she might not be able to get the audience's attention.

She was suddenly transformed. Her first words were loud, decisive, and clear. For a 10-year old girl studying in one of the most ill-equipped public schools in the region, her flawless, articulate English and sharp wit surprised us all. She thanked our donors, remarked on the importance of education, and said how her scholarship will bring her closer to her dream of becoming a lawyer and public servant. In her speech, she even described her idol, the late Philippine Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago - an outspoken and brave woman and admired politician.

A few months later, I heard about her again, but this time it was not good news. Her father had been killed in a shooting incident allegedly involving the terrorist organisation whose presence haunted her town. In the same incident, her mother had been shot and paralyzed from the neck down. The motives were not clear but - fearing for their lives - the children had clearly decided to go into hiding.

We did our best to reach out to her. We believed in her potential and knew we had to make an effort so that it would not go to waste. We confirmed her scholarship, which guaranteed financial assistance, school supplies, and free use of KRIS Library's facilities and computers, but this time we realised she also needed emotional support. When she resurfaced from hiding, she enthusiastically went back to school. Though she missed a few months, she still managed to graduate at the top of her batch. Now at university, she holds on to the dream of becoming a lawyer and public servant, and her fervour is stronger than ever.

Her story is a common one in many areas affected by conflict in the Philippines. Often violence is met with violence, which creates a cruel cycle where both sides lose. Though the mission of KRIS Library promises libraries, scholarships and other forms of support to young people, what we truly give is hope and courage. Hope that a good future is possible. Courage to break the cycle of violence and hatred.