Closing the ‘Rhetoric to Reality’ Gap — Preventing Violent Extremism in Post-Siege Recovery

Michele Piercey | Alastair Reed
April 10, 2018 | 1 Minute Read
Peace, Stability, and Transition | Countering Violent Extremism
How can we counter the rhetoric used by ideological groups to position themselves as practical alternatives governments? Context is key. Experts Michele Piercey and Alastair Reed explain.

When violent, ideological groups like the Islamic State establish a foothold, they strengthen their position with a narrative that the government has failed to deliver on its social contract with the Muslim population, particularly with youth. They exploit this “say-do” gap — the disconnect between what governments say about creating an inclusive identity and equal citizenship for all, and what they actually do in practice — to craft this narrative. By highlighting this disparity, they undermine trust in the government and can then present themselves as a credible alternative source of governance, providing services, and dispensing Islamic justice and dispute resolution.

“The most sophisticated Islamic State pitch,” writes Haroro Ingram in The Strategic Logic of Islamic State Information Operations, “leverages pragmatic and perceptual factors to appeal to a wide range of citizens and to bolster recruiting efforts within communities that feel marginalized from mainstream society and deprived of the opportunities of genuine citizenship.”

In areas vulnerable to violent extremism, local governments often face a critical challenge. A slow or inadequate government response to development needs could actually serve to strengthen extremist groups’ messaging that the government is failing its people, fueling the extremist groups’ recruitment efforts. However, swift, concentrated efforts to provide assistance in vulnerable areas can effectively counter this messaging.

 

In areas vulnerable to violent extremism, local governments often face a critical challenge. A slow or inadequate government response to development needs could actually serve to strengthen extremist groups’ messaging that the government is failing its people, fueling the extremist groups’ recruitment efforts.

A look at the Philippines

We see this on the Philippine island of Mindanao, where the Filipino Muslim population is largely concentrated. In 2017, the IS-affiliated Maute Group garnered support with a narrative that focused on unequal resource sharing by the central government, unclear land titling that incites disputes and worsens poverty, and the historic marginalization of Muslim Filipinos by the government of the Philippines. These grievances had already driven decades of conflict that killed perhaps 120,000 people and displaced millions. Read the full article on Devex.

About Michele Piercey

Michele Piercey is an international development practitioner with 17 years of experience, including 10 years working on political transition and counter-violent extremism (CVE) programs in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Tunisia. Ms. Piercey currently serves as the senior vice president of the Strategic Solutions and Communications Division at Chemonics. Previously, she was the director of the Peace,…

About Alastair Reed

Dr. Alastair Reed is acting director of the International Centre for Counter-Terrorism – The Hague (ICCT). Prior to this he was research coordinator and a research fellow at ICCT, joining ICCT and Leiden University’s Institute of Security and Global Affairs in 2014. Previously, he was an assistant professor at Utrecht University. Reed’s main areas of…