Over the past decades, our Euro-Mediterranean governments have sought to address violent extremism within the context of security-only counter-terrorism measures. Those strategies, understood as a failure to deal with the factors that lead to extremism and violence cannot dry up the emotional and social wellsprings of violent radicalization and, indeed, can make matters worse.
In the name of the fight against terrorism, we have observed an extensive use of military power and the adoption of a repressive legal arsenal, that has not only been highly ineffective, but also responsible for dramatic human rights violations and increasing global human suffering. The anxiety to respond has also fostered overreactions in terms of Homeland Security, whereby our fundamental freedoms and civil and political rights have been restricted, subjected to massive vigilance and democratic and plural values have been limited by a general state of emergency.
In the name of the fight against terrorism, governments have curtailed political freedoms and imposed restrictive measures against human rights defenders and civil society activists in many countries. States systematically invoke national security and public safety to shrink the space of independent civil society activities. It is essential to maintain and protect civil society if we want to address the conditions conducive to the spread of terrorism.
OPEV aims to harness the commitment, idealism, hope, creativity, and energy of civil society groups all around the Euro- Mediterranean Region to generate an effective alternative in front of violent radicalisation. To be effective in preventing violent extremism, the actions of the Euro-Mediterranean civil society must be as agile and far-reaching as the phenomenon itself. We should improve our set of tools dynamically and keep reviewing our responses.