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Roots of violent radicalisation

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This report by the House of Commons Home Affairs Committee was published on the 6th February, 2012 in order to "test the evidence base for the Prevent Review and explore issues regarding its implementation."

Despite intending to determine the major drivers of radicalisation one of the findings of the report was that these were still largely unclear, although a sense of grievance did reoccur as a theme in causes of both Islamist and Far-Right radicalisation. In considering these drivers, the committee used the same definitions for radicalisation and extremism as used in the 2011 Prevent Review. Both could be seen as problematic, with radicalisation defined as leading to terrorism and a broad definition given to extremism, which in both cases could be argued to delegitimise non-violent radical social and political views (as argued in a recent Demos report and by Marat Shterin, given as two examples of several works suggesting this view). As with the Prevent Review, the committee did differentiate between violent and non-violent extremism. It noted that the former appeared to be on the decline however, whilst also commenting on the lack of empirical data it cited witness's statements that non-violent extremism, both of the Islamist and Far-Right kind was on the increase. What data was given was, it noted, often anecdotal in nature.

As with Islamist radicalisation, more research was needed into why people became radicalisation within Far-Right movements, but that these memberships tended to draw on unemployed, poorly educated people who were concerned with immigration. As with Islamist movements, it seemed that a distrust with and disengagement from, political processes was also a factor.

In terms of where radicalisation took place, the committee commented that it appeared there had been too much focus on universities as places where radicalisation occurred, but that also it could be useful for clearer guidance to be given to the HE sector as to what their duties were and for guidance, especially where external speakers may be coming onto campus. The need for better aftercare for prisoners was noted, and there was seen to be a need for further research on questions around linkages between gangs and radicalisation. However, it was surmised that religious sites (such as mosques) were unlikely to be places where radicalisation occurred. The principle site of radicalisation, the committee found, was the internet and several recommendations (especially action by Internet Service Providers) were made.

This report forms part of the ongoing discourse about radicalisation within policy circles. Whilst largely uninformative about the causes of radicalisation and, by its nature, over-reliant on a few key witnesses as opposed to a broad in-depth study of the subject, it nevertheless is an educational read within the context of UK policy.

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