- Target Audience
- Youth/pupils/studentsLocal community organisations/NGOsAuthorities
- key themes association
- Community engagement/civil societyTraining
- Peer Reviewed practice
Cultures Interactive e.V. (CI) — Intercultural Education and Violence Prevention
is an NGO that works both in prevention and first-line deradicalisation with at-risk young people that engage in or have shown susceptibility to violent right-wing extremism or ethno-nationalism/religious fundamentalism, or to xenophobic, racist and other forms of hateful and exclusionary behaviour.
In 2005, the CI tackled right-wing extremist/neo-Nazi subcultures which emerged in East Germany after reunification. Since 2008, the CI has also worked in inner-city districts suffering from migration-related ethnic and religious radicalisation and hate crime.
The CI's Federal Model Projects and EU-ISEC and EU research projects focused on developing methods for prevention and rehabilitation work with high-risk youth populations which have largely been failed by existing measures. Methodologically, the CI approach for prevention and deradicalisation combines youth-cultural creativity workshops with civic education and psychologically based self-awareness group work.
The CI also provides gender-specific and gender awareness methods (WomEx), and offers advanced training in methodology for youth work practitioners, to enable them to proactively and efficiently handle incidents of hate speech/crime and extremist indoctrination/recruitment (LocalDerad). The beneficiaries and partners of such CI interventions are schools/teachers, youth centres, street/youth workers, prisons, local authorities/police, communities and local press/media — especially around social hotspot areas.
In 2014, the CI began working more closely with partners in central and eastern European Member States, and started acting as co-chairing organisation for the RAN working group on Deradicalisation, comprising an EU-wide first-line workers' organisation involved in deradicalisation processes for all forms of extremism, including religious extremism and gangs. In 2015, the CI was appointed a Federal Centre of Excellence for Youth-Cultural Prevention of Violent Extremism and Xenophobia (by the government's Prevention Department).
Type of Organisation: NGO
The Fair Skills (FS) practice has recently been implemented as a European Fair Skills (EFS) approach in three eastern European countries. It is financed by the 'Prevention of and Fight against Crime' (ISEC) programme and the Directorate-General (DG) for Migration and Home Affairs.
The practice reaches out to young people from various at-risk communities, brings them together in one external facility, and trains them as youth-cultural workshop facilitators in a peer-learning setting (three one-week workshops).
These peer-facilitators then return to their communities, form FS youth teams and hold workshops themselves, while being coached by the Cultures Interactive (CI) FS team. In their home communities, the FS peer-facilitators will be assisted by local development round tables in which the CI brings together local and national stakeholders to raise awareness of the project and its objectives, and seeks to raise community support.
The FS method combines the following:
(i) facilitated peer-learning in youth-cultural activities with experts (e.g. rap/slam poetry, breakdance, skateboarding, comic/graffiti/visual design, DJing, digital music production and others);
(ii) civic education/pedagogical anti-bias and mediation exercises; and
(iii) psychologically based self-awareness group work. Hence, (youth) cultures are engaged in a way that has interactive, preventive, and deradicalising/rehabilitative impact with challenging groups of young people at risk of turning away from the school system and from mainstream society altogether.
In this way, the FS method systematically supports participants' emotional intelligence, social skills and biographical and political awareness, and delivers specific non-violent and mediation methods, enabling young people to informally promote civil society values and skills in their communities.
Between 2015 and 2017, the FS method was successfully implemented in Czechia, Hungary and Slovakia, in the ISEC project 'European Fair Skills (EFS) — De-radicalisation Training for Peer Role Models and Youth Workers' (http://europeanfairskills.eu/). The EFS project was financed by the ISEC programme (DG for Migration and Home Affairs) and the Federal Agency of Civic Education, Germany.
The main inspiration behind the EFS project is the pressing need to prevent the spread of right-wing extremism and similar forms of group hatred, militias and populism, in eastern Europe in particular. Safeguarding young people from these kinds of risks has become crucial today.
On the one hand, this threat to peace and human rights is rapidly increasing, and on the other, the EU's current rhetoric for countering violent extremism (CVE) isn't helpful for central and eastern European countries. In EU lingo, right-wing extremist group hatred is now barely called by its proper name — rather, with unfortunate lack of clarity, it is indirectly referred to as 'polarisation'.
Even more worrisome is the fact that the extremism issue has sometimes been publicised by the EU in eastern Europe with a focus on so-called Islamism. This, however, is counter-productive: Islamism poses minimal risks in this region, and the EU extremism narrative effectively fuels the populist parties' zeal for venting anti-refugee propaganda, thus indirectly supporting group resentment.
The EFS project developed and implemented the following new FS activities.
- LocalDerad training programme: LocalDerad training is an integrated concept for dealing professionally with right-wing extremism and group hatred via youth work, youth welfare and community work. This programme trained professionals to strategically tackle various forms of discrimination, group hatred and violent behaviour among young people in youth work settings (http://europeanfairskills.eu/activities.html).
- FS train-the-trainer courses: participants (youth workers, educators and peer trainers) were taught to implement the CI's FS activities and adapt them to the needs of their work environments and local circumstances. These courses focused on illustrating opportunities inherent in the youth culture concept that can help to sustainably preven group hatred and violent extremism. They taught strategies and methods for non-formal and process-oriented civic education. A critical yet accepting frame of mind for facilitators is key to success in this area (http://europeanfairskills.eu/activities.html).
- EFS regional round tables: the round tables included not only youth workers, and in some instances, the young people, but also assembled representatives from governmental and non-governmental institutions at local, regional, and national levels, alongside stakeholders and experts from a variety of relevant fields, and local media. Practitioners met with these representatives and exchanged views — in some cases for the first time — about the region's challenges in terms of group hatred and violent extremism, and about possible interagency collaboration between local actors for prevention and intervention.
- In some instances, a 'governmental advocacy initiative' emerged from the round table meetings, allowing the EFS to engage in more substantial dialogue with key persons of national administrations. The second EFS round table also provided input on the methods and principles of disengagement mentorship delivered by the German Association of Exit Practitioners (developed in recent years with the help of EFS project partner Friedrich Ebert Stiftung) (http://europeanfairskills.eu/activities.html).
- The FS methods compendium is available in English.
- Further deliverables on the EFS website are available online.
- Additional deliverables that build on the FS practice have been implemented in the Central and Eastern European Network for the Prevention of Intolerance and Group Hatred' (CEE Prevent Net) project.
- The national FS project from 2009 is documented online (in German).
- Further papers and deliverables are available online.