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GCSP alumnus Soufiane El Hamdi discusses his work combating extremism in the wake of the Nice attack on 14 July

GCSP alumnus, Soufiane El Hamdi, graduated on 17 June 2016 from the GCSP’s New Issues in Security Course (NISC). Now working for Unismed and its Centre of Preventing Radicalisation in Europe and the Mediterranean Region (CPREM), one month later Soufiane Hamdi has been confronted with the aftermath of the Nice terror attack of 14 July 2016.

The organization Unismed and its CPREM centre work with young and at risk people to pull them out of joining extremist groups and radical ideologies, by supporting them and their families and reintegrating them in their societies to be active and productive citizens.

Soufiane spent eight weeks at the GCSP, after which he says he “feels transformed.”

Speaking with GCSP staff, Soufiane said, "At the GCSP, indeed, knowledge meets experience and my capacities and understanding of security issues and new challenges to global security are deep and clear now. I now feel ready to work positively and actively on the security issues that I learned about at the Centre. The GCSP offered me the chance to meet experts and decision-makers that could help me to achieve my goals and objectives to contribute in building a stable and sustainable future environment."

Nice has perhaps not been hit by chance. The Alpes-Maritimes region is the French department with the most radicalized youth, along with the Seine St Denis department.

Soufiane explained that Unismed is now more than ever active in:

  • Capacity building and family support: “We train and reinforce the capacities of the governmental institutions, CSOs and social workers in a large space in France. We also help and support the families who know that their children left to Syria or Iraq.”
  • Reflection and sharing platform: “We organize several meetings and conferences to share best practices from Europe and North Africa to better address the gaps and unify the existing efforts to face this phenomenon (radicalization). We created a mentors network.”
  • Research and evaluation: “We are developing a work unit to capitalize all the existed work on P/CVE and support other organization to develop their evaluation and monitoring methods, as well as conducting researches and studies to better understand the root causes and their link to the different contexts to better react.”
  • Lessons learned: “Producing media pieces with ex-extremists who returned from Syria to sensitize other potential fighters of the risks and clarify the reality that they will be facing in the war field.”
  • Broader scope: “We also work in prisons under the governmental program with vulnerable populations and detainees to help them to reintegrate into their own societies by sensitizing and training them on citizenship and values of the republic, religious education, etc.”

When asked what projects and additional awareness building he'll be working on through Unismed after the Nice attacks, Soufiane said:

“In this period after the attacks, we know that the situation of anger between the local population. We are therefore thinking about starting a campaign to gather and unify Nice residents to stand against these criminal and terrorist acts and forget about the conflicts and tensions related to origins, including religion. We will of course also continue our work against violent extremism and radicalization at our level and we call the French government, local authorities and the European Union as well as the private sector to multiply their efforts and increase their cooperation with us to stop the spread of this phenomenon.”