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Need for Extra Vigilance: Marking the International Day for the Prevention of Violent Extremism as and When Conducive to Terrorism | Citizen Support


12th February, 2024 marks the International Day for the Prevention of Violent Extremism, which aims to raise awareness about the dangers of violent extremism conducive to terrorism, promote measures to prevent it, and enhance international cooperation. This day was designated by the United Nations General Assembly in December 2020 with the adoption of resolution 77/243.

 

Violent extremism refers to ideologies or actions that advocate or use violence to achieve political, religious, or social goals. It can manifest in various forms, including terrorism, hate crimes, and radicalization leading to violence. The key focus of this day is on prevention efforts. This includes promoting dialogue, tolerance, and understanding among different communities, addressing root causes of extremism such as inequality, marginalization, and discrimination, strengthening social cohesion, promoting education and youth engagement to counter extremist narratives, and staying vigilant against suspicious activities.


We must continue taking all essential precautions to keep ourselves, our loved ones, and our dear country Kenya as secure as humanly possible.

By commemorating this day, governments, organizations, and individuals worldwide reaffirm their commitment to preventing violent extremism and promoting peace, stability, and respect for human rights. It is worth noting that prevention efforts against violent extremism are ongoing and multifaceted, involving a range of stakeholders from governments and civil society to religious leaders and grassroots organizations. The International Day for the Prevention of Violent Extremism serves as a reminder of the importance of collective action in addressing this global challenge.

 

Violent extremism is neither new nor unique to any one religion, race, ethnicity, or belief system. The message of intolerance in religion, race, and culture spread by groups like al Shabab has had a detrimental impact on our country. When they carry out attacks and use the media, including social media, to publicize their atrocities, they aim to undermine our common ideals of humanity, patriotism, and peaceful coexistence.

 

While there is no justification for violent extremism, we also need to recognize that it does not occur in a vacuum. Violent extremist operatives are chosen from among us; they do not appear out of nowhere. They plot and carry out their attacks in full view while doing what appears to be normal or innocent acts. We should "never love someone so much that we ignore the truth about them," as Oscar Wilde advises us. Our brothers and sisters, relatives, and neighbors are people we not only live with, but also know who they are. Therefore, it is our responsibility to love them enough to not overlook the truth about them if we become aware that they are expressing radicalized views.

 

Being vigilant also requires us to exercise caution anytime we notice suspicious objects such as forgotten luggage; persons, or actions for example strangers scanning buildings, taking photos, keeping an eye on entrances, and CCTV installations. Instead of approaching them, we should report them. This is sufficient to stop terrorist attacks from causing harm, deaths, and property damage. Furthermore, it is critical to recognize the telltale signs and actions of extremists and radicalized individuals, and to keep a close eye on their activities both offline and online. This entails reporting behaviors such as engaging in questionable transactions, using several identities, or purchasing unusually large amounts of chemicals for unexplained reasons. The National Counter Terrorism Centre, Kenya (NCTC) recommends adopting the motto "If You See Something, Say Something," which urges citizens to report any suspicious conduct. This can be done through their toll-free numbers: 0800721600 or 0712 247 247.

 

As we commemorate this year's International Day for the Prevention of Violent Extremism as and when Conducive to Terrorism, we are all heroes as a country, for our resilience and determination in the fight against terrorism. We have overcome and emerged stronger even after attacks such as the Westgate, 14 Riverside, and Garissa, which sought to dispirit us in the fight against terrorism. We must continue taking all essential precautions to keep ourselves, our loved ones, and our dear country Kenya as secure as humanly possible.

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