The Finnish Government has issued a resolution on the national action plan 2019-2023 for the prevention of violent radicalization and extremism. The action plan aims to reduce extremist violence and its threat to individuals, communities and society, and to promote equality, freedom of expression and other constitutional rights.
“Violent radicalization and the activities of extremist movements pose a threat to democracy, human rights and fundamental rights, as well as to people’s safety and sense of security. The Government will implement the action plan jointly with the competent authorities and organisations. The action plan will help all those who have to deal with these issues to do their work,” says Director of Development Tarja Mankkinen.
The action plan includes measures to combat terrorist propaganda and illegal hate speech and to prevent recruitment by violent extremist groups. The Finnish Ministry of the Interior said these measures "will help mitigate the risk of violence by returnees from conflict zones."
Religious communities involved
According to the Finnish Government, national and local authorities worked closely with civil society, academics and community organisations to produce the action plan.
The prevention measures proposed target "all forms of violent extremism in Finland". These are violent right-wing and left-wing extremism, religiously motivated violent extremism, radical alternative movements and individual actors.
A wide range of authorities are involved in this preventive work, including the police, health and social services, youth services and prison healthcare services. Many civil society organizations and communities, including religious communities, are involved.
The impact of extremist groups
The Ministry of the Interior says preventing violent radicalization and extremism is of "vital importance at the local level," since individuals and groups become radicalized and operate locally, and they are part of local social networks and communities.
Violent extremist groups have a negative impact on safety and the sense of security among people and communities.
Violent radicalization and organised extremist activity are manifested in many ways in the daily lives of young people. The polarization of the social climate affects young people, as reflected in aggressive confrontation and contentious debate marked by black-and-white opinions in school classes. This phenomenon also takes the form of hate speech, especially in the social media, and of threats, insults and exclusion, as the Ministry of the Interior emphasized.
Young people are an important resource in preventing violent radicalization and extremism as well as in building peace and reducing conflict. The aim is to involve young people in planning and performing preventive work.
One of the measures mentioned in the action plan is the creation of safe spaces for debate for young people.