I. Interview with Femke Bax, Coach and Project Manager at the Dutch Urban Knowledge Network Platform31.
1. Could you briefly explain what Platform31 is doing relating to the theme of radicalisation?
Platform31 is organising a series of interactive meetings that take place over the course of four days. These meetings are jointly organised with three Dutch ministries (Ministry of Interior, Ministry of Security and Justice and the Ministry of Social Affairs), the National Coordinator for Security and Counterterrorism NCTV and the European Social Survey ESS in cooperation with 30 municipalities on preventive approaches to radicalisation. Within these four days, we will examine with input from experts how to shape an adequate policy approach, especially how such an approach can be embedded in the mainstream approach with a number of focuses. We will also be in contact with communities and key figures on how municipalities can support professionals with information.
In addition, Platform31 will organise a meeting for professionals together with the Ministry of Interior in January. There will be several workshops on identification, contact with schools, key figures e.g. experts with practical experience. In 2016, there will be several projects starting with analyses of good practices and social tensions in neighbourhoods.
2. What is the role of cities/municipalities in preventive measures against radicalisation? How can cities/municipalities support professionals? Do you have examples?
Their role is mainly to share information in an appropriate way and maintain a strong network in the district with all types of organisations. They can help professionals by offering them (useful!) training. There is a lot of training and information available. However it is best to follow the selections by the NCTV and ESS , which are the most reliable.
I cannot mention any good examples without permission from the municipalities.. However, various instruments are developed and investments are made to have better contacts in the various neighbourhoods.
3. What is your opinion on information sharing and/or communication about radicalisation by authorities? Do you have examples of good practices?
Very important! Communication on radicalisation works best when it is "inclusive," meaning not focusing on an ' us and them' proclaimed position. Again, I cannot cite a good example without consulting.
4. What have Dutch municipalities learned from contact with migrant communities so far?
Very simple; by being open for contact and not just by approaching them if there is a problem. Moreover, at times when there is nothing going on you receive most trust. Yet, it is significant to know each other’s agenda.
Representativeness is also important. Some migrant organisations seem to be a good representation of the community but they are not.
5. In January, you will organise a meeting for professionals about an integrated approach against radicalisation. What is/should be the role/task of states, municipalities, the Islamic community or schools relating to an integrated approach against radicalisation?
In any case, it is important to work together and to be aware of where the information ends up and how it is perceived. In other words, it is significant to know who the key people are in the neighbourhood, both formal and informal key figures. Schools can take a role by discussing the subject instead of seeing it as a taboo. The Islamic community can work with governments and professionals. More about this at our meeting!
II. Interview with Michel Kok, Senior Advisor Safety Manager for the Municipality of Utrecht, The Netherlands.
1. Could you briefly describe the situation in Utrecht concerning issues related to radicalisation and violent extremism? Which ‘threats’ are there currently? Have these been increased lately? Is it only Islamic radicalisation or also other forms (extremist right-wing, Pegida demonstrations)?
The threat in Utrecht comes mainly from people with radical thoughts, whom are no longer receptive to the Dutch society and are fully extracting from society. These people may at some point be travelling to Syria or Iraq and join a terrorist organisation. Also, these people can motivate others to follow their example. The extreme right-wing groups contribute greatly to the polarisation and Islamophobia in the society of Utrecht.
2. What is the main difference between prevention and repression? And if we are discussing prevention measures and repression measures; where lies the balance between these two? Where lies the emphasis?
With repressive measures, existing cases of radicalised individuals can be addressed or can be used to re-impose limits and standards. Often it is also providing assistance in the broad sense.
With prevention you try to avoid that people distance themselves from society, in most cases people withdraw from society and radicalise. This is of course the most important element of any approach . Repression is necessary but does not solve the underlying problems. With prevention you really do something about the underlying problems.
3. Could you explain the community-targeted/community-based approach towards radicalisation which is developed within the city/municipality of Utrecht? How is this policy trying to reduce the feeding ground (and sympathy for radical ideologies and groups) and to counter polarisation? How do you deal with particular communities who are stigmatised through selective engagement?
Part of the polarisation problem here in Utrecht is simply that people do not feel at home. This may have to do with unequal treatment, discrimination, frequent disappointments or a sense of inequality. In Utrecht we try to address these things in particular. Discrimination on the labour market, internships, preventing early school sabbatical, parenting support, information and dialogue. The local community is very important, especially for information and dialogue. Additionally, in the early detection of radicalisation the community is crucial.
4. What is/should be the role/task of states, municipalities, the Islamic community or schools relating to preventive measures against redicalisation? Is there a counter-narrative - i.e. a strategy to provide alternatives for radical ideologies?
We are still developing this in working groups which also include young people themselves, schools and the community to think along with us.
5. The municipality of Utrecht receives a national subsidy for its integrated approach against radicalisation. In what way does the approach in Utrecht distinguish itself? How does it fit the national fight against radicalisation (NCTV)?
We are focusing on prevention and the strengthening of the cooperation with the local community.