“Faith leaders have to do more than preach to the Youth who are vulnerable to violent extremism. They have to play a role in increasing access to resources for the Youth.”
It is this response from Nyambura Mundia; a youth and a Christian theologian that would set the tone of the discussion during the youth-led panel on: Understanding the youth and violent extremism; moderated by Arigatou International – Nairobi.
Nyambura was among our group of five youth who were part of the panel discussion. The panel was held on Wednesday 10 October 2018 at Nairobi during the 3rd International Conference on Religious Extremism and Violence in Africa.
Moderated by Ms. Nyambura Gichuki; a program officer from Arigatou International – End Child Poverty, the panel would highlight what they thought were causes of violent extremism among the youth in various regions.
Mr. Shee Hassan, a youth leader from Mombasa, Kenya said that religious misinterpretation contributed a lot to violent extremism among many youths in the region. He explained that the youth interpret religious teachings or scriptures in their own way or in a way that suits them to either justify violent extremism or lure them into violent extremism.
“Economic deprivation leads many youth into violent extremism. Because of high unemployment, many youth become desperate and hopeless as they struggle to survive. This makes them more vulnerable to join Violent Extremist groups in exchange for economic incentives,” said Ms.Aurelia Adhiambo, from Nairobi.
When asked about the role of the media and violent extremism among the youth, the panel would advise for proper usage of the media with close monitoring from parents and the relevant authorities. Ms. Nyambura Mundia would however challenge participants to not only address what goes to the media but also the root causes of violent extremism.
Abdiweli Mohamed and Harun Mwadena would unanimously call for inclusion and youth participation in programs and policy making as a way of preventing violent extremism among youth. Abdiweli added that many youth from Northern Kenya (where he comes) join violent extremist groups largely because of political and economic exclusion.
“Proper parental care is vital to preventing violent extremism. When parents raise their children with the right values; both religious and social, then the children would not join violent extremist groups,” advised Shee Hassan as the panel concluded.
The panel discussion did not only open a window to understanding violent extremism and the youth but also provided solutions to preventing violent extremism thereby creating peaceful societies. It is such peaceful societies that offer a safe environment for the growth of children; an environment free of violence and poverty.