The recent terrorist attacks in Sri Lanka reminded the world of the evil that radicalized groups represent and generated a global conversation about the best way to preemptively thwart this threat. It’s since been reported that some of the attackers even spent time in neighboring India and as far away as Australia and the UK, yet none of those countries seemingly had any idea that future terrorists were on their soil, let alone Sri Lanka itself which ultimately fell victim to their plot. While many across the world are wondering what went wrong and how nobody was able to stop these attacks before they happened, it’s much more useful to look to the future instead of the past in order to ensure that something like this never happens again, and it’s here where the deradicalization program being implemented by China presents the best possible course of action for the rest of the international community to follow.
The People’s Republic has been successfully carrying out a far-reaching jobs training and education program in the western region of Xinjiang for several years already in response to previous terrorist threats emanating from that part of the country, and to China’s credit, there has yet to be a large-scale attack there since this ambitious initiative began. Contrary to the ridiculously false claims made about this program in parts of the foreign press, China isn’t following in Hitler’s footsteps by rounding up religious minorities in “concentration camps”, but is proactively identifying at-risk or already radicalized individuals in Xinjiang’s society that could pose a security risk to the rest of its citizens and responsibly enrolling them in extended deradicalization programs to remove the brainwashing that they’ve been subjected to. During this time, these individuals are also given job training so that they can reintegrate into society upon release and work on the Silk Road that runs through their geostrategically positioned region.
Earlier this year, China allowed foreign diplomats and journalists to visit some of these job training and education facilities, during which time none of the experts reported that any human rights abuses were taking place. To the contrary, there was lofty praise for this program even among the Muslims that participated in this tour, and it’s important to point out that neither the Pakistani government nor the Saudi one have criticized China’s program. These influential countries command a lot of respect among the international Muslim community and have a religious obligation to speak out if their co-confessionals really are being oppressed, but that has yet to happen because nothing of the sort is really taking place. As such, it can be concluded that the hysterical criticism being leveled against this deradicalization program by some of the foreign press is actually fake news and that there isn’t any cause for concern when it comes to what China is doing.
With this in mind, there’s no reason why other countries can’t adopt elements of this program tailored to their specific needs in the aftermath of the Sri Lankan terrorist attacks. After all, the most effective anti-terrorist strategies aren’t kinetic but non-kinetic, or in other words, rely on non-forceful measures in order to be sustainable. Simply arresting radicalized individuals and then later releasing them back into society once they serve their prison terms doesn’t solve the problem but might even make it worse because the former prisoners might then have a vendetta against the government and dedicate the rest of their lives carrying out acts of terrorism against it. Instead, it’s best to deradicalize these people while they’re in prison and then release them once they’ve learned proper job skills that could make them responsible members of society upon release, which is exactly what China is doing and should be emulated by the rest of the world.
DISCLAIMER: The author writes for this publication in a private capacity which is unrepresentative of anyone or any organization except for his own personal views. Nothing written by the author should ever be conflated with the editorial views or official positions of any other media outlet or institution.