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INFO   :::  Educational Outreaches - PAGE 1 > Extremism seen from the angle of the young

 

Extremism seen from the angle of the young

Prijepolje and Sjenica, 27 and 28 April 2015

 

The Helsinki Committee for Human Rights in Serbia and its Novi Pazar-based youth group organized youth seminars in Prijepolje and Sjenica. Sociologist of religion Srđan Barišić discussed with high school and university students notions such as extremism, chauvinism, nationalism and patriotism and activities of extremist groups in Serbia and the symbols that they use. Quoting the examples of Mahatma Ghandi, Jan Palach and Martin Luther King, Barišić asked the participants whether non-violent forms of resistance could be viewed as extremism. Some said, “These were conscious struggles for an idea. The term extremism can only be used if you endanger someone’s life with your actions, yet nonviolent resistance is not extremism.” However several participants thought otherwise replying “I don’t think it is proper to sacrifice oneself in this manner, because in doing so you also sacrifice other people’s lives - the lives of their families and future generations who will look up to your act.”

When asked to define extremism, participants answered that was “any deviation from decent, appropriate manners and a ‘turn’” to inappropriate, aggressive behavior that endangers others at the same time,” “every form of extremely negative behavior directed against individuals, groups, institutions or ethnic groups,” “any radical movement that promotes the idea that one group of people is better than the other and spreads the ideology of violence," “a group of people who violate human rights and thus disturb peace” or “expressing personal opinions, impressions and beliefs in an extreme manner and promoting these as the only possible and acceptable way of life.”

In an open discussion with representatives of the police, the youth were further informed about current activities of the police such as the action of legalization of weapons and lectures in schools. Young people spoke with police officers about asylum seekers, activities of sports fans, the most common offenses committed by juveniles and other pressing problems.

The youth also participated in a workshop held by human rights activist and workshop leader Demir Mekić during which they developed ideas for a public campaign in local communities. When asked about the role of young people in local communities, most participants said they should play an active role in their community and initiate cultural events. Participants said that the youth should „be active and try to change the current situation, advocate policy changes at local level and promote positive life values“ and „take part in decision-making related to the youth“.

The youth seminars were organized within the project “Reach out Sandzak II” that Helsinki Committee for Human Rights in Serbia and its Novi Pazar-based youth group realize with the assistance from the US Embassy, Belgrade.

 

 

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