The role of religion as a potential driver to violent extremism is significant, hence Faith-Based Organizations play a major role in the fight against violent extremism and terrorism. Religion has proved to be the foundation through which violent extremist groups use to recruit new members.
Religious leaders are important and extremely influential members of society. In a world in which the majority of people identify as spiritual, religious peace-building initiatives are necessary for combating violent extremism and terrorism.
Religion acts as a mobilizer to violent extremist groups who misinterpret and misinform the public, especially the targeted youth population. It is an effective tool for violent extremist groups trying to recruit young people living in places where they have been restricted from embracing other forms of identity such as citizenship or professional status i.e. financial empowerment.
This is where Faith-Based Organizations come in as a barrier between the youth and terrorist groups to stop violent extremist groups like al-Shabaab from corrupting religion and also stopping them from framing world events and political developments in unprincipled ways with the intention of corrupting an individual’s personal life experience to suit violent extremism.
Counter Violent Extremism policy uses religion as a facilitator in guiding legit religious leaders to offer counter-narratives to violent interpretations of religious scripture. This offers positive outcomes in the fight against terrorism. These religious leaders teach and advise the public while reporting any signs of radicalization among their community members. In Kenya, Imams are part of Counter-Terrorism, they monitor and report on suspicious activities within their community to authorities and security forces.
Faith-Based Organizations help in religious literacy, which results in the proper understanding of religious texts and scripture. The main reason why violent extremist groups take advantage of the youth is because of lack of proper religious knowledge and understanding. When the public is aware of the true meaning of misinterpreted scripture, it changes the dynamics in the fight against terrorism.