Strengthening the Culture of Tolerance in Jordan

There is consensus among practitioners, policy makers, and analysts that efforts to counteract extremism and radicalization cannot be based exclusively on security measures. In Jordan, there is great concern about the tacit approval to extremist ideas and groups in particular among young people. Given the urgency of this phenomenon, the Berghof Foundation in close cooperation with its local Jordanian partner launched the project "Strengthening the Culture of Tolerance." The aim of the project is to counteract extremist ideas among young students through awareness-raising and the development of preventive projects. The project follows a two-track approach: First, it establishes an Advisory Expert Group that will serve as a platform to elaborate constructively on the root causes of extremism in Jordan and to develop preventive measures. Second, the project initiates an exchange with the respective target group in order to both learn about their attitudes towards extremist ideas and to raise their awareness for tolerance and pluralism.

Timeframe

2015 - 2017

Conflict Setting

Since the beginning of 2011, the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan has witnessed an upsurge of Arab Spring-inspired political protests. Today, Jordanians are scared by the fate of neighboring countries. Yet, developments in the post-Arab Spring era have hinted on the various conflicts simmering under the surface though the government has been hitherto successful weathering the political storm and maintaining social and political stability. The deterioration of Jordan's economic situation and the living conditions of a majority of the population not only increases discontent and the chance for popular protests, it also creates fertile ground for extremism and radicalization.

There is broad consensus among practitioners, policy makers, and analysts that efforts to counteract extremism and radicalization cannot be based exclusively on security measures. Acknowledging the vital role that young people can play in preventing and countering violence and extremism, the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan hosted the Global Forum on Youth, Peace and Security in August 2015. According to Ahmad Alhendawi, the United Nations Secretary-General's Envoy on Youth, the adopted Amman Youth Declaration is an elaborated roadmap for engaging youth in preventing and countering violent extremism.

The Berghof Foundation aims to support this approach. In close cooperation with its Jordanian partners, the "Jordanian Society for Democratic Enabling", the Berghof Foundation launched the project "Strengthening the Culture of Tolerance."

Approach

To counteract extremist ideas among young students in Jordan the project builds upon different pillars:

  • Advisory Expert Group: By establishing an Advisory Expert Group, the project creates an enabling environment in which experts of different professional, social, and religious background discuss the root causes for extremism and formulate recommendations for preventive programmes.
  • Discussion and Focus Groups: Aiming to learn from young people and to build upon existing capacities, the project ascribes young people an active role in the process. During discussion and focus group sessions in different governorates young people will be asked to share their experiences and knowledge with experts.
  • Youth Network Teams: The aim of building-up a youth network is to support young people to implement prevention activities on the ground. This includes the training of trainers and training of students.

Aims & Outcomes

The overall aim of the project is to strengthen inter- and intra-religious tolerance and pluralism in Jordan and to support the development of new and non-violent approaches to address the phenomenon of extremism among young people.

The project is to develop different outcomes such as:

  • An accurate assessment of the root causes and reasons for supporting extremist ideas by young people in Jordan.
  • Studies mapping state, non-state, and international programmes and projects that address the phenomenon of extremism and radicalization.
  • A draft of a curriculum for training the trainers.
  • Measures to contest extremist ideas and long-term prevention programmes to strengthen (religious) tolerance and pluralism.
  • Establishment of youth network teams as consolidated structures that provide a framework for exchange.

Partner

The project is implemented in close cooperation with the Jordanian Society for Democratic Enabling.

Funders

Our activities are funded by the Embassy of the Netherlands in Jordan and the Dutch Foreign Office.