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A common goal and problems of certain states: experts from 15 countries discussed ways of combatting extremism

What are global and regional challenges associated with spread of xenophobia and extremism? Is development of common approaches to fight those phenomena a possibility? Experts from 15 countries discussed these and other issues during international scientific conference "Xenophobia and Extremism: Global Challenges and Regional Trends", which took place online on October 26. The even was hosted by the Center for Studies of Extremism and Radicalism (CSER) under Moscow Institute of Economics (MIE) with the support of the Alexander Gorchakov Public Diplomacy Fund

Sessions of the event are available to watch on the YouTube channel of Moscow Institute of Economics. The agenda of the conference can be veiwed here.

During his presentation, Director of CSER Dr. Valery Engel mentioned that absence of a common international definition of the term "extremism" interferes with cooperation between different countries when combatting that phenomenon. The expert defined the complex concept of extremism as "an activity based on adherence to extreme views and targeting destruction of core values, destruction of existing social, political and economic systems, characterized by intolerance, hatred and violence towards them and supporters of opposite views".

"A characteristic feature of modern extremism is its focus on destruction of core values. Since certain groups of countries have different and sometimes opposite core values, they consider completely different political groups and forces as extremist. The main problem is not in the absence of the generally accepted concept of extremism, but the absence of common world values, which will never exist. That is why common struggle with that phenomenon on the international arena will only become possible when confronting terrorism, but hardly in any other areas associated with threats to value priorities, which are perceived differently", concluded Valery Engel.

Steven Bronner, Professor at Rutgers University, Director of the International Council for Diplomacy and Dialogue (USA) told about risks of foreign interference and the role of a civil society in combatting extremism. The speaker said:

"Extremism is flourishing where the civil society is weak. The question for western democracies is  how to behave towards certain "fragile states" in the Middle East and Africa where the source of sovereignty remains unclear, but human rights are under threat."

Dr. Rinat Pateyev, Director of the Center for Islamic Studies at the Academy of Sciences of Tatarstan, analyzed sociocultural factors of radicalization of Islamic communities in his report:

"The pseudo-Islamic radicalism is a phenomenon of the modern world, which has absorbed sociocultural values prevailing in the new global society. The actual breakup of traditional structures of the Islamic communities is turning into a foundation for development of a new social reality. Active processes of industrialization and modernization are completely destroying stability of internal social interactions, which were characteristic of traditional community-based lifestyles. Under those conditions, views, values, norms and stereotypes of the modern society are affecting the new social environment of muslim communities and its becoming global."

An extensive agenda of the conference was divided into blocks dedicated to analysis of the situation and problems of combatting radicalism and extremism in certain regions and countries. Thus, Dr. Salamat Malabayev, Assistant Professor at Kyrgyz State University of Geology, Mining and Natural Resources Development, told about the reasons of growing xenophobia and extremist moods in Kyrgyzstan. One of the factors, according to the speaker, was "changes of historical memory using new ideologies when history loses its objectiveness and serves only as a tool for resolution of internal and external tasks".