Radicalization of youth is the problem that can no longer be ignored

Centre for Civic Education (CCE) expresses deep concern about the increasingly visible radicalization of the society which is also expressed through frequent violence whose actors are young people. Recent cases of the mass fight of motorcade participants in Gusinje, as well as the attack of young guys on the reporter of TV Vijesti, Sead Sadiković in Bijelo Polje, in just a few days, bring concern that we have already stepped out of the risk zone into the serious manifestation of radicalization of the youth.

The CCE has been warning long since of risks and potential for radicalization of the youth through researches and recommendations for strengthening community resilience. Montenegrin society is strongly burdened by unsolved internal interfaith and interethnic tensions due to the failure of multiculturalism, unfinished process of dealing with the war past, but also non-functional rule of law.  This is followed by the pressure which brings health and the consequent economic crisis. Such social context abounds with triggers for radicalization, which in line of the earlier research that indicates that young people already develop radicalized attitudes and values.

According to the research results, the youth are mostly not interested in political processes, they often advocate undemocratic attitudes, express low trust in political parties, institutions and media, but on the other hand, trust the most to military and police, they are prone to nationalism and authoritarianism, intolerant toward some sexual and ethnic groups, reserved toward the idea of multiculturalism in Montenegrin society. Also, the CCE reminds that the research indicated that young people in Montenegro live in difficult economic conditions, a huge number of them are unemployed or working precarious jobs, slowly getting independent which results in half of them wanting to leave the country. The majority of young people consider themselves marginalized because decision-makers do not pay attention to their needs.

The CCE considers that there is a lack of adequate level of accountability amongst decision makers in Montenegrin society, which also refers to resolving important issues for the life and future of young people, thus eliminating existing risks.  In recent months, the social context has been further radicalized through the division speech, relativization of the serious human rights violations, degradation of the culture of dialogue at all levels and discriminatory attitudes which overwhelm the public. Within that framework, young people remain subject to manipulation instead of deliberating policies that will promote their position.

Radicalization does not happen overnight; it is a process that lasts and escalates into violence when the youth and their needs are neglected for too long. Therefore, it is important that all identify the danger and act in the prevention of the further radicalization of the society and the youth. Political elites have a particular responsibility in reducing tension, promoting peaceful and nonviolent conflict resolution, building institutions that contribute socio-economic wealth and which are trusted to. It is important to include the needs of the youth in response and recovery plans from the consequences of the COVID19 because the crisis further aggravated the situation of young people and affected their mental health.

Society needs a strategy for the prevention of hate speech which has become one of the key motivators for the radicalization of the youth. At the same time, the needs of the young people should be prioritized to create an environment in which they will not feel lost and helpless to contribute to positive changes within the society, thus preventing them from turning to radical ideas and violence. The education system has the key role as it should encourage the youth to resist radicalization through the development of critical opinion and a culture of tolerance, and to this end, it would be important to promote civic education and media literacy, cooperation amongst formal and informal system, but also strengthen possibilities for democratic participation of the youth and development of political literacy.

Petar Đukanović, Programme Director