New knowledge centers aim to stop Swedish IS recruits
In order to prevent the recruitment of people to the terrorist group IS and other violent extremist groups, Sweden's National Coordinator against Violent Extremism, Mona Sahlin, is initiating a pilot program to set up special knowledge centers ("kunskapshus") in four cities.
The idea takes its inspiration in part from Århus, Denmark, which opened a center in 2007 to combat the radicalization of youth after the London bombings of 2005.
The "Århus model", based on cooperation among the police, social services, schools and Muslim congregations, has been very successful in preventing people from traveling to Syria to participate in terrorist groups, reports SVT. The Århus center provides a mentor program to help people choose other paths than that of violent extremism, and Sahlin wants to incorporate that program into the Swedish centers.
"We're starting with four pilot municipalities that have growing problems and have admited deficiencies in their work against extremism," Sahlin tells Radio Sweden.
In January, Stockholm, Gothenburg, Örebro and Borlänge will each open a center in which local experts will be able to quickly respond when someone shows signs of radicalization. People who are concerned that a family members could be on the road to being radicalized may turn to the centers for support and advice; as can people who want to break away from a community that encourages violence.
Sahlin says that the point of having everything under one roof is that people who need support and help can avoid getting shuffled around between different authorities and actors.
"There are a lot of territories, obstacles between authorities, but that won't do any longer," says Sahlin. She hopes that the four pilot municipalities will demonstrate to other municipalities that preventative work can be fast and effective.