PRACTICIES webinar nº1: Young Europeans and radicalism


> The panel

The panel included Séraphin Alava, from the University of Toulouse-Jean Jaurès, which coordinated the project; Nicolas Becuwe from Kantar; Dounia Bouzar from Bouzar Expertises; Yanis Lammari from Youth ID; Moritz Konradi and Martí Navarro Regàs from Efus.

> The project’s objectives and principles

Séraphin Alava introduced the seminar by summing up the PRACTICIES project’s objectives. “Started in 2017 at a time where the terrorist threat was very high,” the project was based on three principles: 1) understanding and explaining radicalisation processes, 2) following a holistic approach that takes into account all the dimensions of radicalisation, i.e. “social, human, affective and family radicalisation”, 3) interdisciplinarity, i.e. links with other European projects, exchanges among cities and developing concrete tools. “Now we need to hand this matter over to field workers: first of all municipalities but also educators and other field stakeholders,” he concluded.

> Young Europeans and radicalisation

Nicolas Becuwe presented the pan-European survey conducted by Kantar on how young people perceive extremism.* “The results are worrying,” he said, highlighting the fact that one in two young Europeans thinks that violent radicalisation is rife in their country and 83% that this phenomenon is going to last and even intensify in the years to come. The survey also showed that one in four young Europeans knows or hangs out with people they consider to be radicalised, that a majority is exposed to hate speech (e.g. over 70% in France), and that they do not trust mainstream media.

> Psychological aspects of radicalisation

Dounia Bouzar shared insights from the work she and her team carried out over two years in accompanying French families affected by the radicalisation of one of their members.
“There is no single radicalisation factor. Rather, it is a mechanism in which personal vulnerabilities mix with macro factors such as social despair, the quest for meaning, or discrimination,” she said. Seventy percent of Jihadists have been victim of violence or other trauma; 48% were diagnosed as depressive; 35% had a sudden death in their entourage, and 23% are addicted (drug or alcohol).
All these factors must be taken into account when working on reintegrated or disengaging extremists. It is interesting to note that those who are most vulnerable psychologically, hence more prone to being manipulated, are paradoxically better equipped to exit radicalism precisely because they are more permeable psychologically, she said.

> Giving the young aspirational, on-the-ground projects

Yannis Lammari shared insights from his experience on the ground at the helm of an association that works with young people from deprived neighbourhoods, in France. He said there’s a striking paradox in that on the one hand, youngsters have great aspirations concerning social fairness and climate change, but on the other they do not think they are capable of changing the world and feel powerless. Radicalism sometimes stems from this dichotomy.
Yannis Lammari believes much more should be done on the ground but notes that some field workers hesitate to intervene on radicalisation because they feel ill equipped, in particular as regards religion and racism. “Associations such as ours struggle to work on questions of secularity, religion, Shoah, racism and antisemitism in France.”
Another interesting aspect that needs more work on is media education, in particular social media, in order to develop the young’s resilience to fake news and stereotypes online.

> Multidisciplinary work on youth

Concluding the webinar, Séraphin Alava stressed that “young people are defiant but want to believe in something.” In order to prevent some to fall for the radicals’ promise of a better world, “it is important to renew the social contract between the young and society and to give them a true role in society.” This will require “a lot of multidisciplinary work.”

* Survey conducted online between 28 February and 21 March 2018 in 12 European countries (Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Germany Greece, Ireland, Italy, Poland, Portugal, Spain) with a total of 12,013 interviews (1,000 interviewees per country).

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