First PAVE Stakeholder Committee Meeting held in Beirut
The PAVE stakeholder committee meeting for Lebanon took place on February 8, 2021 and was held virtually over Zoom. The meeting was a joint effort between the Berghof Foundation, the American University of Beirut’s Issam Fares Institute for Public Policy and International Affairs and Fondation Maison des Sciences de l’Homme, who are all key partner institutions in the project. The participants present included representatives from religious state institutions, members of Lebanese civil society, prominent academics in the field and lawyers with experience in Islamist prisoners and violent extremism. The meeting was divided into two parts. The first part included a presentation of the PAVE project, including the research approach and the methodology, whereas the second part of the meeting was devoted to discussing the research questions and field site selections. The participants present were interested in the project and commended the initiative, claiming that it presents a nuanced approach to the study of violent extremism in Lebanon and moves away from the typical assumptions and perceptions. For a majority of the participants, extremism is a man-made phenomenon that stems from the deprivation of rights and oppression. In Lebanon, extremism can be seen in all levels and kinds of state institutions, which ends up reproducing further extremism. Against that background, participants present also believe that violent extremism in Lebanon relies heavily on the nature of the political sectarian system and existing sectarian tensions. In concluding the meeting, the majority of the stakeholders present committed themselves to supporting the project and the research process, and expressed their interest to consider the policy outcomes of the research results.