I am in Stockholm to help launch the Swedish action plan to safeguard democracy against violence-promoting extremism.
The Swedes are unique in their approach – they are preventing violent extremism not by focus on what they don’t want to happen, but on what they positively want to see happen instead – strong and vibrant democracy. It makes a refreshing change after efforts from many other European countries that have failed to get the buy-in of vast swathes of the communities that need to be engaged.
The action plan has six aims:
- Enhancing awareness of democratic values
- Increasing knowledge about violence-promoting extremism
- Developing the structures for cooperation
- Preventing individuals from joining violent extremist groups and supporting defectors
- Countering the breeding grounds for ideologically motivated violence
- Deepening international cooperation
It was launched today to an audience of 200 municipality workers, social workers, community activists, and non-governmental organisations, and there is a real appetite from Sweden to learn from experiences in the rest of Europe and in turn spread the lessons – good and bad – that they learn as they operationalise the plan in the coming months and years.