By UNESCO MGIEP
Kimmie Ahlen: From Radical to Reformist

Kimmie Ahlen teaches youth workers on how to interact with young people who have been affected by some form of  violent extremism or the other.

It’s quite easy to see why he could have some valuable insights on the subject; as a 12-year-old Ahlen joined the Swedish White Power movement and became a leading figure in the Nationalsocialistisk Front for nine years.

Kimmie Ahlen left that life long ago and  now works with the Brottsförebyggande Centrum (Crime Prevention Centre) in Värmland, Sweden. He talks about his experience and knowledge of the extremist groups and the reasons why young people are attracted to them. Ahlen hopes that he can help youth workers, politicians and other officials to prevent violent extremism through a sensitive approach to mentorship.
[vc_row css=”.vc_custom_1475136676431{margin-bottom: 15px !important;border-bottom-width: 0px !important;padding-bottom: 0px !important;}”][vc_column][vc_single_image image=”1927″ img_size=”full” alignment=”center”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row css=”.vc_custom_1475136546120{margin-bottom: 5px !important;border-bottom-width: 0px !important;padding-bottom: 0px !important;}”][vc_column][vc_column_text]Kimmie Ahlen was invited to the UNESCO International conference on the Prevention of Violent Extremism through Education: Taking Action held in New Delhi from September 19 – 20 where he shared his deeply moving testimonial at a session entitled ‘Paths to Radicalization and Drivers of Violent Extremism.’

At the session, Ahlen spoke about the change in his life and the crucial role of school, parents and open communication in preventing violent extremism.

Ahlen revealed that while growing up in a small village with high unemployment rates, he found that the place was always “burning with frustration and anger.” He talked about his father being a racist who hated immigrants, homosexuals – basically anyone ‘different’. He admitted that as a six-year-old, he believed his father when he was told that all immigrants were rapists, thieves and murderers.

Kimmie Ahlen was diagnosed with Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) while in junior school which ledi  him to become a target of relentless bullying. Without any friends or an identity, he turned to music. He was allured by the ‘Viking Rock’ band ‘Ultima Thule’, that is infamous for a White Power following.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row css=”.vc_custom_1475136667363{margin-bottom: 15px !important;border-bottom-width: 0px !important;padding-bottom: 0px !important;}”][vc_column][vc_single_image image=”1928″ img_size=”full” alignment=”center”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]The lyrics taught him that he was a Viking and that they descended from kings and Gods. Ahlen admits he was seduced by their lyrics and for the first time he started feeling included.

By the time he was 12 years old, Kimmie Ahlen was already a skinhead and had begun experimenting with drugs, alcohol and was involved in criminal activities.

Ahlen believes that the right teacher at the right time could have changed everything. He says that teachers, parents and schools play a crucial role in the prevention of violent extremism.

These days he has put his experience to use as a trainer of youth workers who work with young people exactly like he used to be. Ahlen is convinced that if he had had a teacher to talk to, to make him reflect on his ideas and build critical thinking, he might not have taken the path to extremism.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

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