Experiences of discrimination and marginalisation are widespread among young Muslims in Germany. Mistrust and exclusion create a climate in which radicalisation becomes possible. Jochen Müller stresses the importance of addressing these issues in education.
International Centre for the Prevention of Crime (Montreal 2017)
The project “Bildmachen” promotes critical media literacy among adolescents and young adults in dealing with religious-extremist narratives in social media and encourages alternative approaches and perspectives to questions regarding one’s everyday life and environment.
Schools are key institutions to strengthen resilience and prevent youngsters from being attracted to radical ideologies and organisations. What is more, teachers are often among the first to note possible signs of radicalisation, and are important interlocutors for those affected (i.e. the individuals themselves, and their relatives and friends).
As part of the “Highlighting Alternatives!” project (Alternativen aufzeigen!), we have created short films and exercises to support pedagogical work with students in grades 5 and up concerning Islam, racism, democracy, and Islamism. The films tap into current issues and developments in the media affecting youths and show the differing perspectives. The films and accompanying exercises do not seek to deliver simple answers. Instead they show that there are a number of diverse viewpoints and ideas when it comes to dealing with such issues. This comes with the invitation to develop one’s own point of view.
The departure of young people to fight in Syria and Iraq has become a topic at many schools. Salafist indoctrination becomes a problem even before young people begin to call for violence. Social pressure, rigid worldviews and enemy images negatively impact the classroom climate and challenge instructors. ‘A critical approach in prevention work consists in recognizing your pupils’ faith in Islam and reinforcing them in their German-Muslim identity; this helps insulate them against the victim ideology propagated by Salafists’, according to Götz Nordbruch.
Orientation, purpose and community – a growing number of young people are receptive to the ideas and the propaganda of Salafist groups. While it is true that it’s rare to observe a fascination for violence among them, prevention doesn’t just begin once a readiness to use violence has already developed. It is also geared at preventing attitudes that are hostile to democracy and freedom from evolving. Dr. Götz Nordbruch describes approaches and when preventive measures should be taken.
In his article on the concept of prevention work that encompasses all of society, Sindyan Qasem writes: ‘Only by our acknowledgment of the unease, fear and anger of Muslim youths can we expect them to take the step of questioning their own black-and-white thinking and enemy images’. In order to work against anti-democratic positions that are hostile to freedom we need to be willing to take the experiences of young Muslims seriously and to address them in educational work.
Short films play an important role in our work with young people. They are a well-suited medium to highlight current – especially lifeworld-related– topics and to stimulate discussions. Nalan Yağcı introduces some of them.