By Fatma Ahmed:
Muslim Religious Leaders and Professionals have resolved to form Building Resilience Against Violent Extremism (BRAVE) committees for Upper Eastern Counties/sub-regions.
Stakeholders in from the area represented by different organizations, institutions, and opinion shapers in the community such as Imams, Ulamaa and Sheikhs came together in a stakeholders’ workshop held on 2nd to 4th November, 2015 in Isiolo, Kenya where they agreed to form BRAVE Moyale, BRAVE Marsabit and BRAVE Isiolo.
The aim of the consultative retreat was to bring Muslim leaders, religious scholars and professionals together to deliberate on the situation of the Muslim Community in the region in the face of increased violent extremist activities in the country and identify the most effective ways to deal with the threat.
The forum was also meant to create ownership and devise a workable action plan on the best way to implement BRAVE programs based on the community approach through establishing local structures that will make BRAVE programs easily implementable.
BRAVE is a Muslim led intra-faith movement initiated to bring Muslims together to speak with one voice against violent extremism. It works to discourage Muslims from embracing violent extremism ideology and foster relationships with people of other faiths as taught by Prophet Muhammad (SAW).
The initiative’s main focus is on identifying and analyzing the pull factors; i.e. religious narratives used to justify extremist activities with a view of developing carefully thought counter narratives that are in conformity with the teachings of Islam.
BRAVE is a three year program whose objective is to train three thousand Sheikhs, Ulamaa and madrasa teachers on narratives and counter-narratives using a Training Manual and Resource guide known as Master Narrative Set Kit (MANSKIT) which is currently prepared to be used as a training tool. By the end of three years the program is expected to have reached 20 million Kenyans across the country.
The campaign started in the month of Ramadhan (June 2015) by putting adverts on counter-narrative in both televisions and radio. Radio adverts were in Kiswahili and Somali while the Television Commercials were in English and Kiswahili. Campaigns were also initiated in social media by introducing a Facebook page and a twitter handle by the name Jihad For All.
Objectives of the Workshop:
- Appraisal of effectiveness of BRAVE as a Muslim intra-faith program in dealing with violent extremism.
- Strategies on clearing image of Islam in the country as a violent religion.
- Identification of the major causes of violent extremism in Kenya and how Muslims in Kenya can intervene/address the problem.
- Discouraging Muslims from taking part in violent extremism.
- Finding ways of assimilating the returnees without driving them to more violent activities.
- How women can effectively participate in counter violent extremism.
- A concrete Muslim position on violent extremism.
- Strategies to combat violent extremism.
- Developed action plan on the implementation of the strategies.
The workshop was facilitated by the BRAVE Steering Committee members who also participated in the workshop. They were:
- Mustafa Y. Ali – BRAVE Convener
- Abdullahi Haji Wako
- Othman Mujahid
- Sheikh Ibrahim Lethome
- Sheikh Ramadhan Aula – Secretary/ BRAVE Program Manager
The BRAVE Program Manager is Sheikh Ramadhan Aula who can be reached on email@example.com.