State–civil society partnership

In Bangladesh, both the civil society' and the state organs run on their own and rarely collaborate on governance and security issues. There might have been some practical reasons why both sides preferred to work in silos and

The role of civil society 203 maintain their distinctness. However, there are some interesting cases of state-civil society collaboration in the PCVE domain. For example, Bangladesh government agencies have partnered with religious leaders to alert and sensitize the Muslim community about violent extremism. Bangladesh Islamic Foundation (BIF), an autonomous body under the Ministry of Religious Affairs, works with Imams from a network of70,000 mosques to ensure that they deliver a pre-sermon speech during weekly Friday congregational prayers. The text of the speech is prepared by BIF experts and sent to Imams across the country. The Ministry of Education and Ministry of Home Affairs are engaging educational institutions in building awareness about extremism and terrorism among teachers, students, and parents (Bashar 2016).

The state-civil society collaboration has also taken place in the counter-ideology arena. For example, in 2017, the Bangladesh Police’s Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) collaborated with several Islamic scholars and produced a point-to-point rebuttal of the extremist misinterpretation of the Holy Quran and the sayings of Prophet Muhammad (Peace be Upon Him). The document was first of its kind in Bangladesh to have analysed the primary documents recovered from various militant hideouts. The selected misinterpretations were then analysed, and the correct interpretations were produced. The hardcopy of the 92-page booklet was mass-distributed, and the soft copy of the book has been disseminated online.

In 2019, the Counter Terrorism and Transnational Crime Unit (CTTCU) of the Dhaka Metropolitan Police, in collaboration with the Stop Violence Coalition (SVC), organized a national conference on preventing/countering violent extremism.6 SVC is a civic engagement platform of the 16 civil society organizations working across Bangladesh.7 This conference was organized to discuss the trends in radicalization and violent extremism in Bangladesh and to share experience and understanding of different stakeholders working on PCVE issues in Bangladesh. The conference had also discussed government action plans and policies to solicit views/opinions from other governmental and non-governmental actors. Members of different P/CVE programme implemented like CSOs, NGOs, networks, think tanks, researchers, academicians, and experts from universities, institutions, development partners, foreign diplomats, and government officials from various law enforcement entities attended the conference.

Even though these partnerships exist, a concern within the civil society that they are less visible and security agencies is increasingly apparent in PCVE work. There is a widely held view that the state agencies should focus more on their countering work, i.e., CVE - intercept, arrest, interrogate, legal recourse and allow the CSOs to do the traditional advocacy and learning activities, i.e., PVE work.

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