The Nordic Council of Ministers and the State Secretary of Justice and Public Security Thor Kleppen Sættem met with an alliance of 15 Nordic cities and +100 Nordic police, researchers, experts, and practitioners to create safer Nordic cities. Joining efforts to strengthen Nordic security in preventing and countering radicalization and violent extremism.
On March 20–21, 2019, The Nordic Safe Cities Network co-hosted a session together with the State Secretary of Justice and Public Security Thor Kleppen Sættem in Asker, Norway. It was the first innovation camp, in which +100 attendees from the Nordic regions, Eastern Europe, the UK, and the U.S.A, spent two days re-thinking and re-booting their approach to the daily work of promoting social inclusion and safeguarding cities from radicalization and violent extremism in the Nordic region.
Keynote speakers from a diverse field of academia, law enforcement, governments, national program directors and local community leaders, shared their insights on the internalization and globalization of the far right, intensification of Islamophobia and the increased normalization of violent hate speech. Eric Rosand, the director of the Prevention Project and a former senior official in the US Department of State, shared international perspectives on bridging national and local action plans. Adel Elsayed Sparr from the United Nations Counter-Terrorism Unit reinforced the crucial need to engage and focus on youth as a positive force and important partner to prevent violent extremism. As well, as Jacob Davey from the Institute of Strategic Dialogue presenting findings from the report Smearing Sweden: International Influence Campaigns on the 2018 Swedish Election.
Throughout the two days, we as a network of +15 Nordic Safe Cities worked on concepts and actions plans on how to counter the current movement of hate. Starting with 100-day strategies to move words into action. The teams developed and enhanced new concepts to educate older generations on how to stop the spread of false information online (adopt a granny). Concepts on how to assist civil society organizations in tackling local hate and violence from left, right and faith groups. Approaches to stronger youth engagement with the use of unified initiatives, increased youth participation and the building of long-term strategies. As well as playing with the theoretical and practical application of light as both a symbol and movement in our aim of bringing Light on Life.
We went in with high expectations from Thor Kleppen Sættem, the Norwegian State Secretary of Justice and Public Security, who was convinced that this session would lead to new initiatives and establish stronger collaboration across the North. “We are very pleased to host this Nordic session, which focuses on preventing and countering radicalization and violent extremism by developing new concepts and partnerships in many of the Nordic cities. This is a topic that is high on the agenda throughout the Nordic region. The session will help spread knowledge and exchange experiences between Nordic cities facing many of the same challenges.”. As a network, we confirmed these expectations with closing words from the Norwegian State Secretary of Justice stating the importance of the work we do together in the North and outlining that “people are not the problem, rather people are the solution”.