Anti-radicalization organizations see surge in reports: Coronavirus crisis is 'breeding ground for extremism'
Concerns about a growing number of people prone to adopting radical ideas are highlighted due to the coronavirus. The National Support Center for Extremism (LSE) would receive a report about radicalization once a month before the pandemic; now there are several per week, reports broadcast network NOS.
Moreover, the concerns used to be mainly about possible jihadists. The majority of reports now concern a completely different group: people who embrace conspiracy theories or alt-right ideologies. “Everyone can see the current madness online. We see the real people behind it,” says director Saskia Tempelman.
The reports are stacking up because an increasing number of people feel insecure or anxious due to the coronavirus crisis and its consequences, adds the director. “That is a breeding ground for extremism. For example, people are afraid that the state will soon lose control and chaos will break out. They will prepare themselves and their children for how to survive in case things go wrong.”
The personal suffering is great in families where someone is so radicalized that they turn to the support center for help, says Tempelman. Red flags are raised, for example, by grandfathers or grandmothers who fear that their grandchildren will succumb to their parents’ radical thinking. Many reports also come from people in relationships who are afraid of their partner.
The center hopes that there will be more awareness among care providers about this growing group of extremists. “It is a new problem in our society that we all have to deal with,” says Tempelman. “People can really get lost and even engage in violence. We need to learn to recognize that better.”