Far-Right Extremism and Youth: Has the COVID-19 Pandemic Become a “Perfect Storm” for Radicalisation

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Dr Bethan Johnson

Doctoral Fellow at Centre for Analysis of the Radical Right

Dr Chris Allen

Associate Professor in Hate Studies at the Centre for Hate Studies, University of Leicester

Dr Natalie James

University of Nottingham

Iysha Arun

Research Fellow, Dialogue Society

In a recent interview he gave to the LBC, the UK’s top counter-terrorism police officer, Neil Basu was quoted saying that the COVID-19 pandemic has created the “perfect storm” for radicalisation. Although reiterating that the primary threat of terrorism to the UK was from Islamist terrorists, Assistant Commissioner Basu highlighted that far-right extremism is growing rapidly. Official figures show that the number of far-right terrorist prisoners in Britain has hit a new record high with one in six terrorists being held in jail on accounts of far-right extremism, these include Thomas Mair (who was convicted of murdering Jo Cox) and Jack Renshaw (a member of the banned National Action who admitted plotting to murder MP Rosie Cooper with a machete). The politics of such inspired ideologies include white supremacy, antisemitism and genocide anticipation, and, Islamophobia.

So where do youth come in? And how has the pandemic contributed to this rise?

Far-right extremism poses a detrimental risk for youth with “10 out of the 12 under 18s who were arrested for terrorism last year [being] linked to extreme right-wing ideology”. A growing number of young people in Britain are being drawn into hateful ideologies online, with predators deliberately targeting vulnerable youth, who are now spending more time indoors and online due to the pandemic. This discussion event will aim to unravel some lingering questions that arise on the topic of youth and far-right extremism. For instance,

  • What are the most influential factors in radicalisation? How is the internet posing a useful tool for predators?
  • When does radicalisation turn into terrorism?
  • How can we protect our youth? What signs should carers, friends, and families look out for?
  • And, who should we turn to if we’re worried about a child?
Far-Right Extremism and Youth: Has the COVID-19 Pandemic Become a “Perfect Storm” for Radicalisation