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Countering radicalisation that turns to terrorism has become an issue of particular concern for many European spcieties. Both Islamist and right wing radicalization have seen resurgence in recent years leading to violent attacks on European soil. In this context the early detection of radicalization processes and the understanding of the root causes and factors that trigger them becomes ever more important so that early prevention is enacted.

On 28th of June 2016 the Center for the Study of Democracy held an expert workshop on the validation of radicalisation monitoring tools in South East and Central Europe. The meeting was attended by Dia Anagnostou and Dimitris Scleparis from ELIAMEP Greece, Libor Stejskal and Pavel Mička from CUNI-SBP, Charles University, the Czech Republic and Mila Mancheva and Rositsa Dzhekova, from Center for the Study of Democracy, Bulgaria.

In her opening speech, Dr. Mila Mancheva, Senior Analyst at the Sociological Program at the CSD, emphasized on the importance of discussing the results from validation studies of proposed monitoring instruments and risk indicators, conducted in Bulgaria, the Czech Republic and Greece in order to finalise a comprehensive Radicalisation Monitoring Tool in the fields of right wing and Islamist radicalisation.

Mr. Libor Stejskal of CUNI, Charles University, and Mr. Dimitis Scleparis of ELIAMEP presented the results from validating the Situation Analysis indicators on right-wing radicalisation that were conducted respectively in the Czech Republic and in Greece. Libor Stejskal presented some gaps identified in the annual situation assessment reports on extremism produced by the authorities in the Czech Republic. These include the lack of coherence between police and judicial data on extremist crimes and registration time delays leading to the appearance in statistics of one and the same crime with a different date; and the need for more rigorous regional analysis of the crime data collected by authorities. Dimitris Scleparis presented the key findings of a pilot situation assessment in Greece based on data collected by Greek authorities. Most of the hate crimes in Greece are registered in Athens and Thessaloniki and the primary bias motives are based on national or ethnic origin, or on colour. In addition, more than half of the hate crime cases are cleared by the Hellenic Police and most attacks are conducted by groups, and not by a single perpetrator.

In the following session Rositsa Dzhekova, Coordinator of the Security Program at CSD and Pavel Mička from CUNI-SBP shared findings from testing risk assessment indicators among first-line officers in the field of Islamist radicalisation. In Bulgaria there is limited understanding of radicalisation-related risk factors among police on the ground with the issue being considered a sensitive topic falling within the domain of intelligence services. In this light Ms. Dzhekova suggested that the effective application of the risk assessment by first line officers requires an official commitment from the Ministry of Interior at central level. Monitoring risk indicators by police needs to be mandated officially through an institutionalized procedure and clear instructions need to be provided to frontline officers. She also stressed that a clear distinction must be drawn (and communicated to stakeholders) between intelligence objectives and monitoring of early warning signs by police for the purposes of prevention work. Her final recommendations included the need to conduct training of police staff prior to monitoring, as well as to develop cooperation between police and social services and other stakeholders. Pavel Mička of CUNI-SBP shared that the conclusions relevant for the Czech Republic were similar to those for Bulgaria. In light of the small Muslim community in the country Mr. Mička stressed that besides first line officers other parts of the security system such as intelligence services, immigration office, foreign police, as well as NGO’s have to be more active in the field.

With regard to validating the qualitative assessment of risk indicators in the field of Islamist radicalisation, Dia Anagnostou of ELIAMEP stated that in light of the lack of registered manifestations of home grown Islamist radicalisation in Greece, many of the model indicators for Islamic radicalisation appear irrelevant to the Greek context and those that are relevant need careful explanation. Mila Mancheva of CSD shared the opinion that specific risk indicators can be tested and discussed only with regard to a specific risk community or group. She put under discussion a set of indicators selected based on field work in a specific Salafi Roma community in Bulgaria. The discussion concluded by reaching the agreement that distinction is to be made between indicators of root causes and of manifestations (symptoms) of radicalisation to be structured along micro (individual) and meso (group and community) level.

The participants in the expert workshop, 28 June 2016
Dr. Mila Mancheva, Senior Analyst from the Sociological Program of CSD
Mr. Libor Stejskal of CUNI, Charles University
Mr. Dimitris Scleparis of ELIAMEP, Greece
Ms. Dia Anagnostou of ELIAMEP, Greece

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