The reasons for the radicalization of youth and ways to solve these problems were discussed on August 21 in the Kushonien district, Khatlon region, one of the most affected by the departure of Tajik youth in the ranks of ISIS (a terrorist organization banned in Tajikistan and other countries).
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The dialogue meeting, organized by the IWPR office in Tajikistan in partnership with the Government Committee on Women and Family Affairs, was attended by about 50 people, including representatives of the local administration, teachers and educators of preschool institutions, students, housewives, and other activists of the district.
Before starting the discussion, the organizers showed a video clip about the fate of a mother who lost her only son who died in the Syrian war. This video did not leave indifferent the participants of the meeting, who mentioned that in their region there are many mothers who had lost their children in someone else’s war, which is incomprehensible for everyone.
Experts Saidahmad Kalandarov, Bogigul Islomova and Lola Olimova spoke of tolerance in the field of religion, legislation governing religious activity and the role of local communities in solving regional problems. A platform for free discussion was created in an interactive form.
Participants of the dialogue meeting spoke about the reasons pushing young people into the ranks of banned extremist and terrorist organizations. The main of them, residents of the Kushonien region, consider poverty and a poor socio-economic situation in their region. Young people have nowhere to work, no facilities for sports are available, they cannot realize their ambitions, and they cannot get a good education. Among other reasons, a weak ideology and lack of sufficient knowledge, both religious and secular, were also mentioned.
Divided into groups of several people, the participants discussed how to improve the current situation. They suggested ways and methods to solve these problems and presented their recommendations to local authorities, donor organizations, and also set forth their own opportunities to reduce tension in their communities. And the first proposal in all groups was to create new jobs for young people so that they would not leave to work in Russia, but could earn money in their homeland.
Latofat Shukurova, an accountant at one of the regional state institutions, suggested paying more attention to the education of children from a very early age, from kindergartens.
Beside the point, residents of Kushonien noted a lack of preschool institutions in the villages and educational courses for girls and women. They suggested that local authorities pay more attention to the creation of courses for training young people for high demand occupations, conduct training before young people leave for labor migration, and conduct campaigns to counter violent extremism with the involvement of local citizens returning from combat zones to talk about what it is like to be there.
Activists proposed to increase the number of grants and soft loans for those who want to engage in small business, proposed the creation of working groups with the participation of reputable activists to conduct educational meetings in the villages and mahallas of the district for parents and children.
Representatives of other religious faiths, mainly Orthodox Christians, live in the region. In general, the population is very tolerant towards them and respects their beliefs and traditions.
Nevertheless, one should pay attention to the religious education of young people and introduce subjects on religious studies in the programs of secondary schools, the participants in the meeting mentioned.
IWPR holds interactive (dialogue) meetings in the framework of the project “Stability in Central Asia through an open dialogue”. Similar meetings were held earlier in 7 other areas of Tajikistan. It is expected that dialogue meetings with community activists will be held in 8 more districts of the republic.