New forms of extremism are on the rise in the Northern Netherlands. Jihadism only plays a limited role in the three northern provinces, according to a research report that will be published today. The report was drawn up by UG researchers Pieter Nanninga, Leonie de Jonge, and Fleur Valk, by order of the Municipality of Groningen.
Public perception and policy often place the emphasis on jihadism, but the research shows that it only plays a limited role in extremist manifestations in the three northern provinces. Traditional forms of right-wing and left-wing extremism have likewise only surfaced in a limited way.
The researchers conclude that new forms of extremism are on the rise in the Northern Netherlands, in particular anti-government extremism that regularly cross-pollinates with right-wing extremism. This development has led to a rising number of extremism-related incidents in the region, varying from threats and vandalism to an attack on a journalist. Today’s forms of extremism are variable in terms of organizational forms and ideologies. The boundaries between legitimate activism and extremism are fluid. Extremist manifestations are often related to concrete problems, for example the coronavirus, nitrogen, and asylum seekers debates. At the same time, they need to be seen as a sign of a wider shared societal discontent in the region.
The Northern Netherlands approach to extremism is shown to be in line with the national frameworks and is largely seen as positive by the interviewed professionals. At the same time, researchers conclude that there is a discrepancy between the phenomenon and the approach to it. As a consequence of the perception of the national frameworks and training courses, the focus of the local approach still strongly lies on jihadism, while more recent forms of extremism are often not recognized as such. In order to address the recent developments regarding radicalization and extremism in the region in an adequate fashion, we need more awareness, expertise, and capacity.
E. (Elies) Kouwenhoven
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