Denmark to use 'voices of reason' to tackle radicalisation

COPENHAGEN • The Danish government has unveiled measures to combat radicalisation, including a "corps of digital voices of reason" to challenge extremist views on the Internet.

Part of the new plan is for the Danish Security and Intelligence Service (PET) to form a "national alliance against online radicalisation", including authorities and people from civil society, to which the new "voices of reason" project will be linked.

"A civil society-driven corps of digital voices of reason will be established," the Ministry of Justice said on Tuesday during a presentation of the anti-radicalisation plans.

The corps would "systematically be present in social media and engage critically in relevant forums, take part in dialogue and challenge extremist views", the ministry said.

A unit will be formed within PET to identify and remove extremist material from the Internet.

The government said it would also seek to introduce a filter against "violent extremist online material" modelled on the filter against child pornography used by the country's major Internet service providers.

But experts said that such a filter could be circumvented easily by using a VPN connection.

"Those who are dedicated and really want to will always find a way around," Justice Minister Soren Pind told public broadcaster DR, adding that the filter was aimed at young people who were easily influenced.

The new rules will also make it easier to prosecute those spreading extremist material online.

Other proposals include making it harder for foreign fighters to claim social benefits and requiring religious sermons to be delivered in Danish.

Earlier this year, Denmark banned travel to conflict zones where terror groups operate, and since last year the authorities have been able to seize passports and issue travel bans if a person is suspected of planning to participate in armed conflict abroad.

The Danish city of Aarhus has drawn international attention for its "soft-hands" approach to battling religious radicalisation with social techniques used in gang exit strategies, but Mr Pind has said it is unclear if the method really works.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 13, 2016, with the headline 'Denmark to use 'voices of reason' to tackle radicalisation'. Print Edition | Subscribe