In cooperation with international NGOs, civil activists in Raqqa have organised workshops that train volunteers on countering extremism and encouraging volunteerism within the society.
A number of civil society organisations coalesced to organise a workshop in the city of Raqqa on volunteering and how it can help to reduce tendencies towards extremism in the region.
Participants at the end believe that there is a strong connection between volunteerism and reduction in extremism. The work connected to volunteerism provides a channel for young individuals to provide their services to the community and gain a feeling of self-worth and “utility”.
Raqqa itself was a hub of oppositional military activity with elements strongly connected to extremist groups. Extremism reached its peak in Raqqa when ISIS took over the city and continued to occupy it until its liberation by the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) in November 2017. ISIS attempted to propagate its extremist ideology to the local residents through their strict legal code and its attempts to brainwash the local youth through its heavily ideological and militaristic educational programmes.
The video report was prepared by Aso Network, a media outlet that covers the activities of civil society groups in the north of Syria. It cooperated with the Civil Society Support Center, which was established in March 2018 and works as a hub to support local organisations. Taa Marbuta, a civil society organisation that focuses on women’s issues in northern Syria, also participated in the workshop.
Civil society activism in northern Syria has bloomed ever since the ousting of ISIS from most of the northern regions in 2017. Local civil society organisations are supported and intimately connected with the political and military institutions that govern the different regions of northern Syria. These can mainly be divided into areas under the military control of the SDF and political rule of Democratic Federation of Northern Syria on the one hand, and a confederation of rebel groups, including the National Liberation Front, on the other hand.