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Europe's terror response: Empowering right partners is key to preventing #radicalization




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Europe’s governments are at risk of funding organizations whose ideology can contribute to polarization and radicalization within society. The European Foundation for Democracy (EFD) – an independent policy institute focused on preventing radicalization in society – believes that the lack of understanding of the ideological drivers combined with the absence of a strict vetting procedure for funding radicalization prevention efforts have led to the empowerment of organizations whose worldviews and goals run counter to Europe’s liberal democratic values.

Recently, the UK Charity Commission has had to step in to stop the Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust and Anita Roddick Foundation from funding the advocacy group Cage because it did not match their “charitable objectives”.    In 2017, the Belgian Parliamentary inquiry into the 2016 Brussels attacks found that there has been a serious lack of supervision of many mosques in Belgium. The most visible example is the Grand Mosque of the Cinquantenaire that Belgium leased to Saudi Arabia in 1967 and which has become an uncontrolled centre of Wahhabi propagation directly linked to radicalization. This and related issues will be discussed at a Brussels conference held on the second anniversary of the Brussels attacks, where EFD will set out its proposals for governments and public institutions to vet organizations that receive funding for anti-radicalization work.

EFD highlights the need to ensure governments empower organizations that support the liberal democratic values of European societies, as well as increase cooperation among all groups involved in addressing and preventing radicalization on the ground.

Roberta Bonazzi, president of the European Foundation for Democracy said: “There is no doubt that governments and the EU have stepped up their efforts to deal with the scourge of terrorism over the past two years. However, there is a real danger that their efforts could backfire or be undermined due to the funding of groups whose ideologies run counter to the very foundation of Europe’s liberal democracies.    “That’s why we are urgently calling on the EU and governments in Europe to throw their weight behind a strict and comprehensive vetting process. We are now in the extraordinary situation where some governments are too afraid to ask the tough questions about the groups they are funding.”

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