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26 Nov

Media Narratives Countering Violent Extremism

On 26 November 2017, the West Asia - North Africa (WANA) Institute gathered 40 international and local experts to discuss the role of media narratives in countering violent extremism (CVE) in Jordan.

The WANA Institute shared its research findings, which analysed examples of radicalisation counter-narratives from four media genres broadcasted during Ramadan 2017: comedy, drama, advertisement, and cartoons. In addition to dividing the narratives into categories, the study analysed the actual content of regional media itself.

The media analysis found a common conflation between Daesh and terrorism, which frames the group as the representative of all violent extremism. This overlooks many nuances and complexities of different violent extremist groups.

The study also showed that counter-narratives tend to address acts of violent extremism without focussing on the radicalisation process. They do not explain why individuals become radical and what leads them to undertake acts of violence later on. The narratives also tend to capitalise on emotion opposed to rationale.

Most importantly, while counter-narratives try to dismiss the worldviews presented by violent extremists, they rarely offer positive alternatives. By using the same dichotomous worldview of right and wrong, such counter-narratives perpetuate the same paradigm used by violent extremist groups. 

The final failure of many counter-narratives, according to the research, is that they often only reach an audience that already shares the views they promote.

A CVE Charter for Jordan

The WANA Institute also presented a CVE Charter at the event, which provides guidelines for various CVE stakeholders: government bodies, development practitioners, and civil society actors. The charter focuses on several areas including politics, media, economics, youth, social issues, and education. The charter is a valuable starting point to standardise the CVE approach in Jordan and highlight the areas which most need attention.

The research is part of a project funded by the Dutch Embassy that attempts to understand the relationship between human security and effecting measures for countering extremism. The publication of the full paper is expected later this year.

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