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AgainstViolentExtremism.org A network of people who want to stop the violence
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AgainstViolentExtremism.org is a network of former extremists (known as ‘formers’) and survivors of extremist attacks who share expertise – whether they are working to prevent young people being radicalised or helping individuals leave violent extremist groups. For instance, former violent extremists from Pakistan can discuss how to combat terrorism with gang members from San Salvador. The network includes others with an interest in countering violent extremism: activists, policy-makers, entrepreneurs, and other business people.
The AVE network was seeded in summer 2011 at the Summit Against Violent Extremism (SAVE) in Dublin, hosted by Google Ideas. The summit demonstrated that former perpetrators and survivors of violent extremism are powerful influencers in turning potential and existing extremists away from a violent path.
The network was launched formally by a consortium of partners: the Institute for Strategic Dialogue (ISD), Google Ideas, the Gen Next Foundation and rehabstudio. AVE’s private sector and non-profit foundation support avoids some of the potential perceived conflicts of interest faced by initiatives funded by governments and, importantly, brings private sector expertise, methodologies, and entrepreneurism into efforts to tackle the scourge of violent extremism.
The network is founded on the belief that there are lessons to be learned between those groups combating different forms of extremism, from Islamist far-right extremism to gang violence. For instance, experience shows that the practical measures needed to help an individual leave a skinhead football group, a right-wing extreme group, or an Islamist network are similar. These individuals will often require new housing, a new job, and a new social support structure.
Though many organisations around the world are involved in efforts to tackle extremism, they tend to be local, small-scale projects without significant resources. The AVE network and associated website will allow individuals from these organisations to share practical expertise, pool resources and find donors or volunteers.
AVE aims to have 500 members of the network by the end of year one and over 1000 by the end of year two. The network already includes, amongst others, former members of the white power movement from the US, former Islamist extremists from Indonesia and former members of Latino street gangs.
Resources now available on the site include a guide on how to run a charitable organisation with tax efficiency, how to build a marketing campaign, how to use social networks, how to host a virtual meeting, and how to build a website. Activists will be able to upload short clips to start discussions through the site’s own YouTube channel. In addition, members will be able to see the network grow globally through a real-time network map that highlights where members are located geographically. The network allows members to set their own privacy settings, so that they can control the information about themselves that they share.
The website matches those who need help with people and organisations that have money, time or expertise to offer. There is also a market place function in which members can swap professional skills. Already, an NGO involved in countering violent extremism has requested support from web developers through this forum.