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Tackling Insurgent Ideologies
From: Aug 04, 2020 - Aug 05, 2020

The previous iteration focused on The Christchurch Call to Action. Representatives from over 20 countries spoke at the conference to engage on the inter-linkages between ideological radicalisation, tech, terror, online hate and misinformation.

Given the unusual times we are living through, this year’s conversations will discuss the spread of extremist violence, terrorism and xenophobia against the backdrop of a global pandemic. In trying to fight the novel coronavirus SARS-CoV2 or Covid-19, has an infodemic — characterised by fake news and religious or racial polarisation — been unleashed globally, in a climate already vitiated by radical, ideological violence?

Through Tackling Insurgent Ideologies, we aim to expand the CVE conversation to tackle hate speech and misinformation at the very root. By engaging with government, academia, civil society, the media and social media/tech companies we aim to discuss challenges of, and evolve prescriptive suggestions to tackle this dangerous infodemic, and help prevent and counter violent extremism.

Thematic Pillars

Misinformation and radicalisation have been described by senior Indian police officers as ‘Siamese twins.’ The menace of misinformation and the threat of targeted disinformation has been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, with an information hungry public ready to believe anything that confirms existing biases and feeds on fear. With the power of social media to amplify false information, hate speech and polarising discourse, this panel seeks to navigate the tricky aspects of definition and regulation, of platform responsibility and the impact of user driven counter speech.

COVID-19 has forced a drastic shift in theatres of conflict and terrorism across the world. In the weeks before the pandemic hit, global attention was focused on the efficacy of disarming, deradicalising and rehabilitating returning ISIS foreign fighters in Europe, and the impact of the withdrawal of US soldiers from Afghanistan once a peace deal was signed with the Taliban. However, the pandemic pushed attention on terrorism to the sidelines, so much so that terror groups have seen this ongoing global disorder as an opportunity, pushing through a 'do-it-yourself' method of terror and innovating ways to radicalise potential recruits as global institutions tremble. Between a global health crisis and a closing of international borders and cooperation, what happens to the Global War on Terror? Will the reduced faith in multilateralism and rising protectionism impede effective cooperation against transnational Jihad?

Will the growing consensus against China- exacerbated by the pandemic aid in international coalitions against autocratic Chinese policies with regard to the treatment of its Uighur minorities? With global counter terrorism conversations dominated thus far by necessary attention to Islamist groups like ISIS and Al Qaeda, China’s policies of forced in Xinjiang in response to a movement for independence by the province have been largely ignored by the world community. Muslim majority nations too, have been largely ambivalent about China’s oppression in the name of fighting terrorism and violent extremism. A single party system and an autocratic government has meant little opposition from within to China as well. Given its own economic, territorial and cultural expansionist policies and reported human rights violations against its own citizens, will the conversation change in the wake of the pandemic?

If 2019 was a wake-up call about the radicalisation of White Supremacists after a lone gunman opened fire on a Mosque in Christchurch, New Zealand, the pandemic has only emboldened the kind of politics that fuels identity-based polarisation. The FBI has already revamped efforts to tackle White supremacy as a major terrorist threat. As COVID-19 fuels populist rhetoric about protectionism and nationalism, right-wing extremists claim linkages with State actors they perceive as sympathetic to their cause. We ask if this is a global trend, and if so, what does it mean for the ongoing fight against terrorism. Will it manifest alone, or will the rise of a militant Right-wing fuel an action-reaction uptick in Jihadi violence too?

A year after revocation of Article 370 and bifurcation of Jammu and Kashmir into two union territories, the violent extremism in the region continues. In the absence of a political system, which was rendered dysfunctional due to the lockdown and security measures put in place on 5 August, population of Kashmir Valley is at the risk of a new radicalism. Coupled with hard-security-oriented policies of government of India, the middle ground in Kashmir has slipped and thus the threat of further conflict increased. This panel seeks to examine the current security and political situation of a region marred by an intractable and complex conflict.

“Deradicalisation” has become a buzzword, quickly adopted — at least in rhetoric — by law enforcement and CVE practitioners in India and abroad. However, there still seems to be a lack of consensus on what the term constitutes and how it differs from other forms of non-militaristic counter-extremism practices. This panel shall unpack the construct of deradicalisation and provide some conceptual clarity as to what it entails and how it has played out on the field, the need to build trust to ensure effective results and build capacity in hitherto neglected communities.

Tech has become a tool, as much for violent actors to recruit, engage, and communicate, as for states to employ while tackling threats — real and perceived.  If the surveillance state was created in the interest of safeguarding national security at the cost of individual freedoms, the pandemic brings new challenges for those seeking to protect civil liberties — including the right to dissent against populist or authoritarian leaders across the world. But protecting these freedoms are the other side of the regulatory/ national security coin — as they ensure vibrant democratic debate and the prevalence of rule of law. Now, with apps to track Covid cases, talk of potential ‘immunity passports’ for global travel, at odds with the need for freedom on the internet as all discourse moves to the digital sphere, how do we ensure that the need for privacy and national security don’t contradict each other? How does a digitally empowered society ensure the integrity of the digital public sphere? 

Film and TV in India often represent an aspirational, larger-than-life image of the world. This has often come with a glorification of violence that may legitimize its use by non-state actors. However, entertainment media can also be extremely crucial in forging effective counter-narratives to extremism, especially by destigmatising marginalised communities often considered to be at risk of terrorism. This panel seeks to specifically focus on the ability for entertainment platforms to be agents of positive change — as embodied in popular media’s ability in facilitating the effective dissemination of counter-narratives.

Speakers 2020

Agne Kaarlep

Policy Officer - Counter Terrorism and Radicalisation, European Commission

Ali Khan Mahmudabad

Assistant Professor of Political Science and History, Ashoka University

Amitabh Mattoo

Professor, Jawaharlal Nehru University

Ankhi Das

Public Policy Director – India, South and Central Asia, Facebook

Ashima Kaul

Founder and Managing Director, Yakjah Reconciliation and Development Network

Ashish Jaiman

Director of Technology Operations, Microsoft

Assan Ali

P/CVE Capacity Building Officer, The Commonwealth Secretariat

Beth Goldberg

Research Program Manager, Jigsaw