"Say NO to Extremism"

Bratislava, Slovakia
Intercâmbio Juvenil | 🇪🇺 Erasmus+ 

"Say NO to Extremism"

Bratislava, Slovakia | 12 a 19 Setembro 2021

Intercâmbio Juvenil | 🇪🇺 Erasmus+

Our youth exchange will take place in Bratislava, the capital city of Slovakia. During seminars and workshops you will get new knowledge and skills in topics of the training, get an opportunity to work on your mini project that lifts new perspectives on the selected topics as well as to establish new international networks and cooperation. All in all, the whole exchange will be interactive and engaging.

The rise of extremism is a phenomenon that we can observe in almost all European countries in recent years. Extremism is a threat to modern advanced democracies and, worse, it uses democratic tools to do so. The aim of this project is, together with young people from different European countries, to figure out the reasons behind the rise of extremism – to identify them very precisely and to understand their origins. That will be the key thing, and subsequently, thanks to this, we will be able to work on

the means and activities to effectively stand in the way of extremism and stop it or prevent it.

Concepts such as tolerance and empathy disappear from public affairs, political parties are divided and fight against each other, instead of uniting and advancing together. We believe that political populism is one of the tools that extremism uses and helps it a lot. In this project, we will pay special attention to the political sphere, we will learn how to identify political propaganda, populism, each totalitarian regimes, but also to examine democracy in depth, its pros and cons.

In the project, we will also significantly reflect on our historical experience. Each of the partnering countries has a history of experience with a totalitarian or authoritarian regime, which are known for their extreme form and today serve as a springboard for current extremist political parties or associations. Together we will analyze our past, find commonalities and through appropriate activities we will try to find lessons from them in our current state.

This youth exchange, supported by the Erasmus + program scheme, took place in Bratislava from 12 to 19 September and was attended by young people from 5 countries: Portugal, Italy, Germany, Bulgaria and Slovakia.
📌 We have 6 days full of workshops, discussions and lectures aimed at promoting tolerance in society and a deeper understanding of origin and the reasons for the rise of extremism. Through informal learning, we were looking for effective tools to fight extremism and to understand why it is doing so well in our countries.
📌 Our guests were several experts from this field, such as Boris Kolman, an expert on extremism and fascism, Tamara Sternberg-Greller and Jonathan Herzog, members of the US diplomatic mission in Slovakia, with whom we discussed populism.
Michal Vašečka, a well-known sociologist, spoke about the development of extremism in Europe and its internal principles of operation. Daniel Milo, the former analyst and researcher at GLOBSEC, who is an expert in misinformation, hoaxes and propaganda, also came to talk with participants.
➡ We believe that the project has brought new competences, knowledge, friendships, or cooperation to all participants, as well as a desire to fight extremism together!

ENG

Written by the participants

Say No to Extremism

By Rossen Apostolov

Extremism can be found all around us and it is a matter that should not be ignored. It is that kind of parasite that our society invented and supported in time leading to globally recognized conflicts. As we learned over the last week, extremists use certain set of instruments in order to popularize their ideas and believes. For instance, misleading information provided in a populist way leads to the creation of certain movements which could have bad impact on the society in general. Such examples can be found almost in every nationality’s history (communism, fascism etc.). Bearing this in mind, we all should build better awareness and knowledge how to fight with it, since it would not be possible to eliminate it entirely because of our societies believes.

Let’s first start with recognizing the leading instruments that these extremist communities use. Among them are accessible misinformation, propaganda, conspiracy theories, targeting minorities and people who are in some way oppressed. As mentioned before in our opinion extremism can not be totally eliminated but at least we can fight against it. Fight against it through knowledge and awareness about it. Extremism cannot be totally eliminated because there are already well-established groups of people which cannot be just “reprogrammed”. At least we can enlighten the young people to build better awareness and knowledge regarding the topic which would decrease the success rate of the manipulative ways the extremist groups use to recruit people to their organizations. Various NGO’s can create different interactive ways of providing this knowledge to the young people by using techniques employed by the extremists themselves. For instance, Student organizations can go from school to school showing short informational presentation and trying to engage young people into the fight against the extremism. Moreover, a media (blog, website, social media profile) can be created for open discussions where people can ask their questions regarding the reliability of news, conspiracy theories etc. on which well educated people in the relevant field can provide a decomposition of the discussion topics. Furthermore, different countries should emphasize on accepting others in their own societies. It would be beneficial, if there is a mandatory program for young people to stay and visit at least one different country until they are 25, this will lead to multicultural experience which would decrease the discrimination between nationalities.

In conclusion, extremism cannot be entirely eliminated. However, using extremist’s instruments we can fight it and at least restrict the spread of extremist believes by tolerance, love, respect and acceptance. After all we have to remember that people are not born with bad intentions, they become bad because of the society that they live in. It is up to us to be better and kinder to each other and that’s the only way how we can help our societies.

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