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Extremism and radicalisation

This section is all about what extremism and radicalisation are.

What is extremism?

Extremism is a term referring to individuals or groups of people who commit or attempt to legitimise acts of violence or other illegal actions by referring to issues in society that they are unhappy with.

Extremist environments and notions are often characterised by:

  • A lack of respect for the freedom and rights of others
  • A lack of respect for institutions and decision-making processes in representative democracy
  • Simplified world views and enemy images, viewing specific groups of people or issues in society as threatening
  • A sense of isolation with regard to the environment or group, creating an increasingly pronounced sense of conflict between "us" in the environment or group and "them", the imagined enemies – frequently more or less everyone outside the environment
  • A desire to create a society that is more "organised", "pure" or "fair"

Extremist ideologies and environments take many forms, and they have many names. Violent or militant forms of extremism are referred to in various contexts. The above definition is a generic term for environments involving individuals and groups of people who commit terrorist atrocities or other violent acts, and environments where other illegal actions, such as harassment, threats, glorification of terrorism, etc. take place.

Find out more about extremist environments in Denmark

What is radicalisation?

Radicalisation is a term describing a process of any length whereby an individual adopts extremist views or legitimises his or her actions according to an extremist ideology.

Radicalisation processes vary widely among the individuals involved, but are often characterised by one or more of the following:

  • The process may be gradual or more sudden – in some cases links can be found with significant life events
  • In many cases there is intensive socialisation, persuasion and increasingly sharper rhetoric in isolated groups, along with more obvious influence from social media over the past few years
  • The individual may distance him/herself from family, friends, leisure activities and other social groups outside the extremist environment
  • "Dehumanisation" may take place, resulting in "enemies" no longer being viewed as people and in turn helping to legitimise violent acts

The radicalisation process is not irreversible. It can be halted or reversed so that the individual can place the extremist ideology and/or behaviour behind him/herself either gradually or more abruptly.

Why would anyone choose to become part of an extremist environment?

It may be very difficult to understand why someone would choose to become part of an extremist environment. You can read more about the many different motives and driving forces underpinning radicalisation processes. Information is also provided about the mechanisms that may come into play when people leave extremist environments.

Find out more about ways into and out of extremism

Extremist environments in Denmark

Extreme Islamism, right-wing extremism and left-wing extremism are the most significant forms of extremism in Denmark.

Find out more about extremist environments in Denmark

last modified Aug 28, 2018