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Academic Panel 1: Factors of Resilience to Violent Extremism

Academic Panel 1: Factors of Resilience to Violent Extremism

The paper deals with resilience of police forces and law enforcement agencies to violent extremists in their internal structures in Europe. The author analyzes several cases of radicalization of police officers and other employees of law enforcement agencies towards various variants of extremism from the history as well from the recent era (as the Jihadist Paris police headquarter stabbing on 3 October 2019 or the dissolving of a special police unit in Frankfurt in Germany in 2021 due to neo-Nazi activities of its members). The specifics of internal culture within the police and law enforcement agencies are explained in relation to the driving factors of radicalization. The strategic and tactical use of internal collaborators in the police and other law enforcement agencies is analyzed. Possible future scenarios of development are outlined. The author describes and assesses the instruments of resilience towards this threat and he suggests several improvements of previous counter-radicalization approaches in this field.

Author: Miroslav Mares, Professor at the Department of Political Science, Masaryk University


Resilience has become a buzzword in academic and policy discourses on violent extremism – as a positive mirror image to the ‘prevention’ of violent extremism. However, this concept is often criticized for its passive connotation, by focusing individuals’ ability to adapt and cope with negative circumstances, rather than addressing the need to change their structural drivers. In reaction to the critique of resilience as de-politicising, this paper investigates an alternative approach focusing on the meso level of community agency, rooted in the capacity of a community to preempt or react to the threat of violent extremism. Resilience assumes awareness of emerging threats by various stakeholders (including religious and state authorities) and their aggregated action to act against these. It also includes the community’s attitude and reaction in the wake of violent extremism activity, or events perceived as leading up to its appearance (Jakupi and Kraja 2018). Resilience hence encompasses three dimensions of stakeholder agency: awareness, attitude and action (Morina, Austin, Roetman and Dudouet 2019). Given the primacy of agency in building community resilience, the paper will also consider community resistance as an important facet of resilience – understood as purposeful nonviolent action against the root causes (e.g. state disfunction or social exclusion), the drivers (e.g. recruiters and preachers) and the manifestations of violent extremism. The conceptualization of community resilience will be briefly illustrated through empirical evidence from an ongoing research project in Kosovo, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Tunisia and Lebanon.

Author: Véronique Dudouet, Senior Research Advisor, Berghof Foundation


Building on the research on radical right in social media (Fielitz and Marcks 2019; Bogerts and Fielitz 2019; Fuchs 2017) and more particularly in Balkans (Perry 2019; Ejdus and Jureković 2016; Marko 2019) the paper looks at the viral spread and circulation of #RemoveKebab and Pepe the Frog memes, unpacking their origins and subsequent appropriations in different regional and global contexts. Rather than taking them as a priori cases for radicalization, I explore their comical functions, which are inviting for laughter and establishing societal flexibility (Bergson, 2012). Humor as a mode of radical right didn’t go unnoticed in academia (Fielitz and Ahmed 2021; Schwarzenegger and Wagner 2018). The paper draws on interviews with students on their perception of humor in these memes, oscillating between potential threat for radicalization and resilience. In interpreting results I’m deploying Bergson’s theory of laughter, looking how interviewees define societal norms or mechanical inelasticity, rediculed in this kind of viral humor.

Author: Katarina Ristić, Researcher at the Global and European Studies Institute, Leipzig University


People who are properly educated, well-informed and live in democratic societies are less likely to develop extremist views and turn to violence. Among the factors contributing to resilience to violent extremism, gender equality and inclusion of women in public sphere play an important role. While the importance of women’s involvement in preventing and countering violent extremism has provoked interest among researchers, little attention has been given to women’s active participation in violent extremism and building their resilience to it. The discussions concerning women and violent extremism predominantly focus on women’s inclusion in advancing community’s resistance and on their roles as mothers and wives of radicalised men. However, in order to adequately tackle the issue of female violent extremists I believe that it is also necessary to develop resilience-building mechanisms corresponding to women’s specific experience with violent extremism. In this paper I will address the question of how to reduce the radicalisation potential among women and strengthen their ability to reject extremist narratives. Using the examples from the Balkans and Western Europe and focusing on vulnerabilities specific to women, the analysis will show how proper education, minimization of push factors and empowerment of individuals and female-led organizations paves the way for a more resilient society. Finally, I will propose different strategies for building individual resilience to female radicalisation, including the empowerment of women within their specific worldviews, producing counter-extremist narratives via the same media used for radicalisation and tackling discrimination and isolation of marginalised women.

Author: Emilija Davidovic, Academic Tutor at Master MaRTe, University of Bergamo