Does Radicalisation and Extremism Change Overtime?

In many ways, it’s visible to see how the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted our lives, however, it remains a mystery when it comes to radicalisation and extremism. As interesting as it is, this discussion became a topic for a webinar held by IMAN Research and SEAN-CSO titled “The Three Ps of Radicalization Post Covid: Push, Pull, and Personal”. On Wednesday, June 1st, 2022, speakers Matteo Vergani and Noor Huda Ismail shared their thoughts and insights regarding the topic.

Matteo Vergani, a researcher and senior lecturer in Sociology at Deakin University, presented his research on the 3Ps of Radicalization. During COVID-19, pandemic restrictions such as lockdown had diminished some terrorism activity. Nevertheless, Vergani said that terrorist activity might resurge even more significantly after the pandemic. Vergani also mentioned that the COVID-19 had affected the 3Ps in Southeast Asia, specifically in the economic sector. Unemployment occured in most countries; people lost their income and had to live below the poverty line. Low-income households in Southeast Asia cut off their food consumption and education. “In Thailand, the majority of children who missed school during the pandemic were in rural areas from the South. And that’s exactly the target population of the extremist group,” Vergani added.

“We are still in the middle of a pandemic. We don’t know the effect on future activities,” said Vergani, discussing his research limitations. He believes that there needs to be a future study on the after-effects of the pandemic within other sectors, not only on education. 

After Vergani’s presentation, Huda took over the stage. The visiting fellow RSIS at NTU Singapore, Huda presented his preliminary research on “Christian terrorists” in Indonesia. Within his presentation, Huda appointed his critic to Vergani et. al.’s 3Ps. According to Huda, reciprocal radicalization is one more important factor for radicalization. In his case, he met Berti, who’s involved in the killing of Muslims in a communal conflict in Ambon. One of the reciprocal radicalization factors to Berti was the feeling of insecurity towards the ‘enemy’. “I have to respond violently because Muslims attacked the city of Ambon from Java,” Berti said.

The discussion between Vergani and Huda shows the importance of further research regarding the topic and to keep up with recent developments.