This blog was written by Ersilia during the YEIP fieldwork focused on collecting opinions on youth radicalisation. (Italy – Feb-Jun, 2018)

Radicalisation and extremism are two words that are rarely faced in a daily context and generally during one’s life, which seems external and light years away from what concerns these terms. In Italy, in my opinion, the meaning of them is unknown to the majority of people, or rather they are understood in a vague and little in-depth manner.

I see the radicalisation as a phenomenon that fully involves the morality of a person, a belief that is made one’s own, which becomes part of oneself, which can cling to many, coming to form a group, often violent, which leads the radicalised group to could be called extremist. The causes that lead to this appropriation of ideologies are many, which can start from a social exclusion, from thinking of being too different and wrong to make own cultures and ways of doing that one doesn’t share or that doesn’t feel, but also from the context in which one grew up, from the education that was provided to and from the mentality of the majority that surrounds us. The Isis, for example, which is also incorporated among the forms of extremism, as any type of terrorism or group that carries out violence, of any kind, on a large scale, is the result of a group of people born in social contexts of limited mentality.

They are born and grown in a world isolated from all existing beliefs and cultures; reality appears only one and always the same, as if they were chained and forced to look in one direction. If we think of radicalised young extremists, who are accustomed to dehumanizing the objective they face, we might initially think that they are people without moral values,”bad”. Looking at this with different eyes, identifying with them, we realize that, if we were educated in the same way, we would probably have carried out the same actions that we now judge despicable, unacceptable. For this, with a little empathy, we would be able to approach, at least a minimum, the way to see the things that these subjects have. Empathy, therefore, could be that capacity that would lead us to reflect and not act instinctively when we are dealing with someone who begins to manifest characteristics due to radicalisation. If the first reaction, as surely would happen now in most cases, was to remove the person involved and isolate it more from the community, it would be even more likely to approach the extremist or radicalist, from which it would feel accepted and in tune. The best way to act in a similar case, in my opinion, would be to involve part of the community and the figures more related to the one involved in order to push for a dialogue and a debate, investigating the root causes thet pushed it to maturing behaviors of this kind and trying to make them feel supported and understood, informing them of the consequences that could lead to acts of a certain type.

The substance of prevention would be that of detaching from the deepest part of the subject’s being, the ideologies that represent a social danger.

A greater help could be provided by a state in which everyone is aware of what radicalistion and extremism means, through better information on these issues. Therefore, a greater knowledge of these topics could be an instrument to prevent violent radicalisation.

Ersilia, 16 years

Note: Responsibility for the information and views set out in this article lies entirely with the authors

Cover picture: Kilian Baumann, retrieved from https://unsplash.com