Distinguished Lecture by Prof. Em. Alex P. Schmid: Counter- and Alternative Narratives as Part of a Comprehensive Strategy to Combat ISIS

Date : 27th October 2015 (Tuesday)
Time : 9.30am – 1.30pm
Venue : Conference Hall 2, Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre (KLCC)

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We are pleased to inform you that the Global Movement of Moderates Foundation (GMMF) together with Southeast Asia Regional Centre for Counter-Terrorism (SEARCCT), International Institute of Advance Islamic Studies (IAIS), Institute of Diplomcay and Foreign Relations (IDFR) and Foreign Policy Study Group (FPSG) will be organising its 6th Distinguished Lecture which will be delivered by Professor Emeritus Alex P. Schmid, Director of the Terrorism Research Initiative (TRI) on 27th October 2015.

In light of the Langkawi Declaration on the Global Movement of Moderates, this Distinguished Lecture will delve into the concept of the Global Movement of Moderates as a testimony to ASEAN’s commitment which outlines measures to help promote moderation and curb extremism throughout the region. This Distinguished Lecture is a high level forum for regional and international leaders to speak on matters relating to the Global Movement of Moderates principles and this time, it will focus on the practical application of the principle in stemming the rise of extremism. Among those who have spoken at the Global Movement of Moderates Foundation’s Distinguished Lecture Series includes His Excellency Surin Pitsuwan, the former Secretary-General of ASEAN, His Excellency Ban Ki-moon, the Secretary General of United Nations and the British Prime Minister Mr David Cameron.

Thus, In keeping with the goal of enriching the concept of Global Movement of Moderates further, it is with great privilege that we would like to invite you to attend the 6th Distinguished Lecture which will be delivered by Professor Emeritus Alex P. Schmid on the topic of “Counter- And Alternative Narratives as Part of a Comprehensive Strategy to Combat ISIS”. The details of the programme are as follows:-

Date    : 27th October 2015 (Tuesday)
Time    : 9.30am – 1.30pm
Venue  :  Conference Hall 2, Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre (KLCC)

Professor Emeritus Alex Peter Schmid is a Dutch born terrorism expert and serves as the Director of the Terrorism Research Initiative (TRI) and also as a director of the Centre for the Study of Terrorism and Political Violence at St Andrews University, one of the most influential terrorism research centres in the world. Schmid's academic consensus definition of terrorism (1988) is widely used, and has been adopted by the Supreme Court of India in 2003.
The organizers attaches high importance to your presence at the Distinguished Lecture and we hope that you will kindly accept our invitation. Should there be any clarifications, please do not hesitate to contact GMM officers;

Mr Wan Mohd Azri Wan Jaafar or Mr Tan Sian Hoo at +603 2095 1115
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. / This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

As this programme is by invitation only, we would be appreciate if you could RSVP to us by the 23rd of October 2015 for us to reserve your seat. Also please feel free to let us know if you have more names from your organization that interested to come to the programme.

gmm programme27OCT2015



Professor Alex P. Schmid began with a concise definition of extremism: an “intolerant, authoritarian ideological position whose adherents view politics not as a peaceful competition between parties…but as a zero-sum struggle, utilising…criminal and violent tactics.” Extremism, he said, was ultimately the product of radicalisation, itself a political polarisation accompanied by the rejection of any and all dialogue with those who hold opposing views. Using these generalities as a framework, Schmid proceeded with his analysis of ISIS and its propaganda machine. While labelling ISIS an extremist organisation rooted in Salafist Jihadism, Schmid described its ability to use a narrative of restored honour and heroic deeds to recruit large numbers of idealistic young Muslims in search of a brighter future. Schmid argued that ISIS have been unwittingly helped in this task by the Western media. In particular, Schmid described a vicious cycle inherent to the ISIS-journalist relationship: ISIS’s perpetrates terrorist acts designed to meet the journalist’s (financial) need for blood on the front page and, in return, gains widespread exposure and legitimacy. This symbiotic relationship, Schmid said, constituting a marriage of convenience, presents profound difficulties for anybody wishing to counter ISIS and its ideology.

Schmid proposed several strategies for combating ISIS. Centring himself on the need to limit ISIS’s ability to disseminate their ideology, Schmid first suggested (perhaps rather contentiously) government censorship of the public media in order to end the destructive ISIS-journalist relationship. Secondly, and closely tied to this he suggested responsible media self-censorship (inclusive of social media). He reasoned that ISIS could only be defeated in the long-term by a Muslim-led counter-narrative that would both invalidate and degrade ISIS ideology. Although several attempts have been made to construct such a narrative, Schmid felt they have all failed. In particular, he highlighted a failure to make counter-narratives dynamic and exciting. ISIS frequently produce inspirational, Hollywood-style recruitment videos; counter-narratives tend towards dry theological discourse that neither excite nor motivate. In future, therefore, counter-narratives need to empower. Whatever form they take, Schmid emphasised, unless the counter/alternative-narratives were seen to be credible, legitimate, clear, and infused with the prospect of success, they could not expect to succeed. [written by Alexander Wain]


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