“Understanding Extremist Narratives and their Impact on the Society“
February 18, 2020
“Narratives are all about stories that we hear and it makes us realize what is real and what is not.” This was stated by Dr. Samina Yasmeen (AM), Director, Centre for Muslim States & Societies, University of Western Australia, during her address at a Public Talk on “Understanding Extremist Narratives and their Impact on the Society.” The event was organized by the Institute of Strategic Studies Islamabad (ISSI) today under its Distinguished Lecture Series 2020. Policymakers, diplomats, academics and students were present on the occasion.
Dr. Samina Yasmeen also stated that the question of a narrative includes obstacles that stop us from achieving the ideal state. Narratives on their own are not violent or bad. In the case of Pakistan, extremist narratives were promoted at the time of Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. From there onwards, the list of obstacles just got bigger and bigger. Jihad and extremism are not just a male process. Jihadi narratives are increasingly using women. Narratives for women have been discussed as a global agenda. Dr. Samina said that the extremist narrative change the person, then the audience and finally change the notion of the society.
Earlier, in his welcome remarks, Ambassador Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry, Director General ISSI, said that in the war of narratives, Pakistan has proven itself through its actions. Pakistan battled the extremist narrative through its heroic efforts in Zarb-e-Azab. In India, the extremist narratives have returned in a major push under Modi regime and its narrow nationalism. Similarly, in Germany, a white supremacist extremist ring that planned to attack six mosques was arrested recently. The extremist narratives are not unique and are faced by all societies. The real question is how we figure out what is driving the adoption of extremist narratives.
In his concluding remarks, Ambassador Khalid Mahmood, Chairman BOG ISSI, described the talk as stimulating and thought provoking and extended his thanks to the speaker for sharing her knowledge of narratives.