#YouthAgainstHate: Empowering Youth to Combat Hate Speech in Local Communities

This project is part of the broader project funded by the British Embassy in Belgrade “Countering Violent Extremism and Radicalization Threats in Serbia through Community-Based Early Warning and Preventive Engagement”. The latter is aimed at establishing and consolidating a foundation for efforts to prevent and counter violent extremism and radicalization that can lead to terrorism (VERLT) in Serbia. Preventing and countering VERLT is recognized as a comprehensive and multi-faceted approach in the global fight against terrorism to which the Government of Serbia is committed. The project encompasses three themes of research, in specific: support to community policing/municipal safety councils (MSCs), intercultural education and civic participation and engagement (civic education).

This specific project will be implemented by the selected implementation partner (Media Diversity Institute Western Balkans). The objective of this project is to equip young people in the capital area with tools to identify, expose and combat hate speech. Sixteen youth activists, up to 25 years of age, will receive expert training on the topic, and themselves be trained as trainers. The 16 activists will then further engage with 200 local high school students, providing training of their own based on a collectively developed manual, that is at its core youth accessible and relevant. A social media campaign on the training and manual will reach out to 10,000 people, and is intended to provide a space for discussions and debate. Hate speech both reflects the levels of intolerance and extremism in a community, and if unaddressed can normalize it. In such an environment of progressive extremism, even more violent and radical forms of extremism are more likely to emerge.

Let’s Meet Each Other, Let’s Tolerate Each Other

This project is part of the broader project funded by the British Embassy in Belgrade “Countering Violent Extremism and Radicalization Threats in Serbia through Community-Based Early Warning and Preventive Engagement”. The latter is aimed at establishing and consolidating a foundation for efforts to prevent and counter violent extremism and radicalization that can lead to terrorism (VERLT) in Serbia. Preventing and countering VERLT is recognized as a comprehensive and multi-faceted approach in the global fight against terrorism to which the Government of Serbia is committed. The project encompasses three themes of research, in specific: support to community policing/municipal safety councils (MSCs), intercultural education and civic participation and engagement (civic education).

This specific project, the implementing partners will be  the Organization for Development and Democracy Bujanovac. The partner will work with 24 young people and engage them in an initial 4-day training, discussing tolerance, stereotyping, inequality and other topics, to learn how they view and frame these issues, seek their ideas on how to improve their community and stimulate their development into future trainers and activists. The partner will develop an online game on the topic of nationalism; promote a messaging campaign on these issues in town centres; and organize discussions on diverse local cultural traditions, including local languages, flags and symbols and cultural practices such as marriage. Based on these events the partner – together with participants – will develop and present conclusions in a joint study, including recommendations.

South Serbia has a mixed community of Albanians, Roma, Serbians and others. However domestic and regional politics often serve to divide, spreading hateful messages through media and political discourse. Openly discussing the topic, and identifying ways young people can ameliorate the situation, can break down negative stereotypes and also enhance critical thinking skills needed to ward off alienation and violent forms of expression.

Play and Foster Youth for Tolerance and Understanding

This project is part of the broader project funded by the British Embassy in Belgrade “Countering Violent Extremism and Radicalization Threats in Serbia through Community-Based Early Warning and Preventive Engagement”. The latter is aimed at establishing and consolidating a foundation for efforts to prevent and counter violent extremism and radicalization that can lead to terrorism (VERLT) in Serbia. Preventing and countering VERLT is recognized as a comprehensive and multi-faceted approach in the global fight against terrorism to which the Government of Serbia is committed. The project encompasses three themes of research, in specific: support to community policing/municipal safety councils (MSCs), intercultural education and civic participation and engagement (civic education).

This specific project, implemented by the selected implementation partner (Helsinki Committee for Human Rights) is focused on a core group of youth participants, but will provide useful information that could be critical to the development and integration of similar opportunities and experiences to more students in the Novi Pazar area (ideally through the formal school/curriculum), to reach and inoculate a broader segment of the population against the lure of extremism. The project engages a core group of 20 young people to participate in a 4-day workshop consisting of theoretical sessions and creative expression workshops. The core group will organize five peer-to-peer debates in Student Parliaments in their schools to engage with up to 200 young people, concluding with a debate on radicalization and violent extremism, and the links to issues including tolerance, interculturalism and citizenship.

The School of Vojvodina

This project is part of the broader project funded by the British Embassy in Belgrade “Countering Violent Extremism and Radicalization Threats in Serbia through Community-Based Early Warning and Preventive Engagement”. The latter is aimed at establishing and consolidating a foundation for efforts to prevent and counter violent extremism and radicalization that can lead to terrorism (VERLT) in Serbia. Preventing and countering VERLT is recognized as a comprehensive and multi-faceted approach in the global fight against terrorism to which the Government of Serbia is committed. The project encompasses three themes of research, in specific: support to community policing/municipal safety councils (MSCs), intercultural education and civic participation and engagement (civic education).

This specific project, implemented by the selected implementation partner (Center for Development of Civil Society), will contribute to developing a more resilient community, able to address problems related to violence and extremism in their midst. In small communities with substantial ethnic diversity, difference is often used as a barrier that not only creates inter-group tensions, but limits the awareness of and possibility for joint civic action that would benefit all community residents. The partner will conduct intercultural training for a group of 21 young people from the Serbian, Hungarian and Ruthenian ethnic communities living in this part of Vojvodina – a region with a recent history of inter-group violent incidents. The training will be based on a specially created curriculum made by a team of academic experts and Temerin school representatives. Participants will be asked to confront their own views and perceptions about their community, and to learn to articulate a vision for new ideas, policies and practices in their community that could improve community life.  Questionnaires for evaluating social distance will be filled out by the participants before and after the event. The partner will also produce a publicly available short film about the activities and promote the training across traditional and social media, to provide a model for engagement in other parts of Serbia.