EFS counters political rhetoric – the Internal Security Forum in Prague
Dealing with the political and populist rhetoric on Islam and asylum, which the EFS team encountered in the partner countries when attending conferences and media events, proved to be a particular challenge during the project. At the 2015 Internal Security Forum Prague, the EFS team gave a talk, a workshop, and eight interviews to Czech press, radio and TV on issues of preventing group hatred and violent extremism. The Forum took place on 2nd-5th of September 2015, organised by the European Values Foundation, Prague, in cooperation with the Czech Ministry of the Interior and the US Embassy.
The EFS team took this opportunity to emphasise how ill-fated it is that the prevailing European discourse on terrorism and prevention focusses mostly on so-called “Islamism”. This focus – which was strongly mirrored also in the Prague Forum’s program – is regularly abused for political ends by the media and governments in CEE countries in order to create fear and muster support for anti-refugee propaganda, identifying refugees with would-be terrorists.
This is particularly ill-fated and self-defeating because Islamism is of very little importance for the V4 countries and in Central and Eastern European countries in general. Therefore, the EFS team – as did parts of the Forum’s audience – emphasised strongly that any young Polish or Czech people who are prone to violence and group hatred and tend to join militias or become “foreign fighters” would travel to Russia and the Ukraine rather than Syria – and therefore right-wing extremism should be an issue of the Security Forum, too.
However, the practitioners and stakeholders from the social field were much interested in hearing about actual prevention and distancing approaches which were developed against group hatred in other countries by EFS inter alia.