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Countering Islamic Radicalization in Northern Mozambique: Radio Campaigning and Adolescent Sensitization in Religious Schools

Project Info

Principal Investigators

Alex Armand (Nova SBE)
Flavio Cunha (Rice University and NBER)
Pedro C. Vicente (Nova SBE)
Inês Vilela (Royal Holloway-University of London and NOVAFRICA)

Project Coordinator

Frederica Mendonça

Funding

IGC and UNU-WIDER

About this Project

In recent years, most of the major violent conflicts in the world have happened in Muslim-majority countries. Of these conflicts, a substantial and increasing share has been related to Islamist insurgents. However, the process of radicalization and the effectiveness of measures to counteract it are widely understudied.

In this study, we look at the impact of different strategies to reduce support of extremists by the local population and to demobilize potential insurgents. Our setting is Northern Mozambique, where a substantial discovery of natural gas took place in recent years. Since 2017, a series of violent attacks, mainly targeting civilians, has been happening in this region, resulting in over 2000 deaths and more than 600.000 internally displaced people (ACLED and OCHA). In this context we study two policy interventions: (i) a religious radio campaign supporting peace and broadcasted to the general population in the province, and; (ii) an adolescent sensitization campaign in religious schools.

The radio campaign is sponsored by local religious leaders and its main purpose is to detach religion (namely Islam) from mobilization of young men for violent attacks. Contents are sponsored by the Islamic Council and the Islamic Congress of Mozambique, the main organizations representing Muslims in the country, as well as the Christian council. The campaign will be broadcast through local community radios and commercial radios operating in the Province. The messages by the religious leaders are translated into the four main languages spoken in the area (Portuguese, Macua, Maconde and Mwani).

The campaign with adolescents is designed to understand the radicalization processes in schools by focusing on interventions in religious secondary schools of Cabo Delgado province. As part of our partnership with the Mozambican representative organizations of Muslims, and given their control of local secondary schools, we gathered their support for several controlled interventions targeting adolescents in these schools. The objective of these interventions is to counter Islamic radicalization and risky behaviours related to criminal activity.

In terms of outcomes, we will collect survey and behavioural data through phone and text message surveys and administrative conflict data from ACLED.

Contributing to SDGs: