How to Challenge Radicalisation?

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Challenge Radicalisation

Radicalisation. Extremism. Polarisation.

What comes to your mind when you read these words? Could you spot the signs of extremism? If so, do you want to know how to challenge it and its narratives?

With Do One Brave Thing, you can learn how to identify the warning signs and to challenge extremism when you see it, with a particular focus on radicalisation among friends, peers, family members and the community that surrounds you in your everyday life.

You can make a difference! You can be the change!


What is radicalisation?

Radicalisation is the process of adopting increasingly negative ideas about and increasing harsh action against an out-group that are justifiable.

(Source: RAN EX-POST PAPER Polarisation Management Manual)

Err... so what is radicalisation again?

Three things to know


Radicalisation’s key component is to have negative views of a group of people based on characteristics like:

This group (the out-group) is perceived to be different and is contrasted with one’s “own” group (the in-group)
The most “common” out-groups are:


The radicalised person thinks that acts against the out-group are justified and acceptable for the sake of the in-group*

* The group that the radicalised person identifies with - e.g. their ethnic group, national group or religious community


Radicalisation is not a state. It is a process that a person goes through.

So there are two key messages

01. Radicalisation poses dangers for individuals, their community and the wider society even at the early stages.

02. You never know how fast radicalisation escalates, this is why it needs to be stopped as early as possible.

By the way, you shouldn’t be bullied or insulted just because you look or behave differently, right?

Who says who’s “normal” anyway?

Why do people radicalize?

There are various explanations why the radicalisation process starts and accelerates.

What’s for sure is that it’s the result of a unique combination of different factors like individual, socio-psychological, social and political factors, and group dynamics.

These can be categorised into two groups.


Push factors:
External circumstances that make one vulnerable to exclusionary ideas

Source: RAN ISSUE PAPER - The Root Causes of Violent Extremism


Pull factors:
Individual motivations and processes that make one receptive to radical messages

Source: RAN ISSUE PAPER - The Root Causes of Violent Extremism

Identifying radicalisation

Does radicalisation really exist in my personal environment, in my community?

How do I know?

Radicalisation can manifest itself in your life too!

You may not have noticed it yet, but if you pay attention, you will come across it in your everyday life:

  • in your community and neighbourhood
  • maybe even among your friends and family.

For instance, you might have witnessed polarisation in your community. This is when a community is sharply divided along identity questions based on an ‘us and them’ thinking.

Polarisation can pave the way to radicalisation!

Radicalisation starts with the common things which are part of our human nature like stereotypes and prejudices.

You have to be aware and challenge them!

If you feed them, they may evolve into negative attitudes towards, discrimination against and exclusion of social groups.

You can identify a person who is going through the radicalisation process through various signs.

The most important feature of the radicalisation process is that the person’s worldview is increasingly based on the rejection of and hate towards “others”.

Possible signs of radicalisation

Now, let’s have a closer look at the dangers of radicalisation.

Dangers posed by radicalisation

Anyone can become the “other”, anyone can be on the receiving side of hate, discrimination, exclusion!

If you are treated this way, there is an increasing chance that you will treat others similarly as well.

Hate, hostility, discrimination and exclusion weaken the cohesion of a community and disrupt personal relations.

Distrust, fear and anger become more widespread, the potential for aggression increases. An unintended spark can easily set the community on fire and start the spiral of violence.

This is why it is important to challenge radicalisation.

This is why you need to step up and counter radicalisation when you see it!

This is why you need to do one brave thing!

What can I do?

With a little help, you can challenge radicalisation too!

You should start by trying to understand the person involved în radical speech or activities. Having an open, empathetic and understanding attitude towards a radicalised person can go a long way!

Radicals were not born as radicals!

For instance, try to understand the radicalised person’s:

  • Personal situation and eventual problems;
  • Relations to their family and friends;
  • Social situation and eventual problems (e.g., perceived grievances and injustices experienced)

Communication is key to challenge radicalisation! Do engage in dialogue and provide alternative narratives too!

But first, make sure you feel safe!


Challenging radicalisation can be hard sometimes and requires some bravery.

Standing up for others and standing up against radicalisation is not always easy.

You can face backlash from people you may not know that well (or at all).

But also your friends, family members and others în your close vicinity can react to your actions in a negative way.

Standing up for the right thing is always worth it!

However, be careful and well-prepared. Bear in mind your own safety!

With a little practice, you will also be able to deal with contentious reactions!

And if you want to:

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