International seminar 2017 – Open minds, open doors

As the second international activity of the work plan, the seminar built on the results of the study visit and the expertise of the people who attended the visit. Three of the participants who attended the study visit were part of the team who prepared the seminar and facilitated the work sessions.

 The aim of the seminar was to build participants’ resilience to radicalization leading to violent extremism by looking at what makes rural youth particularly vulnerable and by engaging them in a mix of reflection and action.

A group of 33 participants accepted the challenge of ”opening their minds in order to be able to open doors” and created a nice and joyful group who debated a very serious and profound topic: radicalization leading to violent extremism.

BounceThe programme of the seminar included activities that encouraged participants to share facts, stories and their personal opinions. Throughout the seminar the SEE-JUDGE-ACT methodology was used. The SEE part included short presentations on the findings of the study visit, while in the JUDGE part, the participants analysed what fueled the process of radicalization, what were the new recruitment and communication techniques and where it was possible to intervene. Field visits and meeting with experts were also included. The ACT part focused on creating a common position on how to build the resilience of young people in rural areas.

Some of the highlights of the seminar are presented below.

World Café – defining the main concepts

Working in three groups, the participants concluded that radicalization can be positive or negative resulting in different outcomes. Radicalization is also being very ambitious and following your own ideas without any compromises. The official definition of the Council of Europe is focused on social and political aspects. Radicalization is according to the participants also not the opposite of open mindedness.

Workshop of hate speech and extremism

The conclusions was that for individuals it is easier to use hate speech online because they benefit from being anonymous.However, hate speech is used in the offline media all the time, mostly because people are not reacting to it anymore. The discussion also led to the idea that religion is not the cause of extremism but it is just a tool that, when finding the proper context, can lead to extremist behaviors. Finally, one interesting campaign which started in Germany was discussed. The campaign is called #hatehelps. It works like this: when you find a hate speech comment you can post this hashtag and an NGO will find it and write in the comments that they will donate 1 Euro to an NGO of their choice.

Panel discussion with experts – “Religion: a tool of love or a tool of hate?”

A panel discussion with two experts, Umut Cengil (Union of Young Alevis in Germany) and Simon Linder (Union of Young Catholic Youth Movements) took place. They discussed about Alevism, a religion born in Turkey, which deals with love, equality and believes that the human is something that is good. Umut explained that he knows of 5 cases of young people from their community to went to Syria to fight  and never returned. Simon drew attention on the fact that there are also many Christian-motivated crimes, not just Muslim-motivated crimes and that no religion in the world promotes hate or crime. The closing remarks showed that the most important thing is education and the second thing is to talk to each other. Education is important and without education it is easier for people to get into extremist ways.

Position Paper

„Living position paper” 

Position Paper

The participants used the method of a living position paper, collecting during the entire week ideas for the position paper which was finished at the end of the seminar and posted on the wall.Before working directly on the text of the position paper, a fishbowl discussion with 7 people took place to stress again which points were the most important ones. The draft version of the Position Paper can be read here. The Paper will be officially adopted next year.


This activity is part of MIJARC Europe’s annual work plan which is supported by the European Youth Foundation of the Council of Europe. A unique foundation supporting activities developed with, for & by young people. The activity was also co-financed by KLJB-Germany.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *