Radicalization in the Heart of Asia Countries: Inputs for Informed Policy Actions

What is radicalization, how can it be identified, prevented and stopped before itleads to violence? How common is this phenomenon in the Heart of Asia (HoA) countries? What commonalities exist in terms of motivations and manifestations,and how can countries come together to combat it collectively? These are some of the questions that this paper tries to answer as input for policy development by the HoA countries involved in the Istanbul Process Counter Terrorism Confidence Building Measures (CT-CBM).The paper begins with a conceptual discussion of radicalization, using examples from global experiences and moves gradually closer to the experiences of the HoA countries directly. It ends with a number of recommendations as to concrete follow up steps.

1) Characteristics of radicalization, motivations, domains, etc. Although one definition is not proposed for the HoA region, elements of a definition could be taken from the various ways that radicalization is being described in literature, mostly as a process which refers to deviating from traditional and accepted norms of society (the “status quo”) and moving towards extremist views, which may or may not result in violence. The status quo may be of political order (e.g. the country’s constitution, the vetted system of governance, or the government in general), religion and religious traditions and dogmas (e.g. adhering to what is considered the right path in religion or tolerance for followers of other religions), or social norms and societal core values (such as attitudes towards human rights, women’s rights, ethnic or linguistic pluralism, etc.). These views may or may not be acted upon using violence...

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