European Fair Skills, Fair*in, and the CEE Prevent Net – preventing violent extremism and group hatred in Central and Eastern Europe

Dr. Harald Weilnböck
Cultures Interactive e.V.
Predominantly associating extremism with Islamism, the EU’s prevention discourse has and still is involuntarily supporting the CEE countries’ populist actors of xenophobia and group-oriented resentment who use the Islamism topic for their defamatory anti-refugee rhetoric, equating refugees with (Islamist) terrorists – thus also obliterating the widespread group hatred and right-wing extremism in their countries. Hence, a CEE approach of preventing violent extremism an group hatred needs to be strictly cross-extremisms, bottom-up, inter-agency and community based, close to youth-work and schools – and beyond party-politics in its language and strategies.

The Fair*in approach employs Cultures Interactive’s European Fair Skills methods of preventing group hatred – in particular ethnicity and gender-based forms thereof, as in sexism/ homophobia and racism, – in order to reach young people more effectively through schools and youth centres; cf. europeanfairskills.eu. It combines (1) youth cultural workshops (rap, break dance, techno, YouTubing, digital music production, etc.) with (2) non-formal civic education (anti-bias, human rights pedagogy, mediation and conflict transformation) and (3) self-awareness group work on personal issues and social grievances. Fair*in puts special emphasis on long-term ‘safe space’ conversation groups in schools.

To strengthen the inter-agency and community based vector, the ‘Fair Skills’ approach also foresees ‘Locally Embedded Prevent Trainings’ for educators and youth workers as well as ‘Regional Roundtables’ on issues of group hatred and social cohesion for community stakeholders. Here, CI also works with the European Network of Nonviolence and Dialogue (ENND). Towards the end of 2018, CI’s new CEE Prevent Net project will continue and expand cooperation with Central and Eastern European grass-root partners.

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