CONNEKT will examine what drives youths towards violent extremism to improve prevention
CONNEKT will examine what drives youths towards violent extremism to improve prevention

Today in Barcelona a research project funded by the EU begins to study the factors that can influence the radicalisation of youths from eight countries in the Balkans and the Mediterranean

CONNEKT (Contexts of Violent Extremism in MENA and Balkan Societies) is a European research project, led by the IEMed, that will investigate what can drive youths aged between 12 and 30 from eight countries – Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Egypt, Jordan, Kosovo, Morocco, North Macedonia, and Tunisia – into setting out on a process of radicalisation towards violent extremism.

Representatives from the 14 organisations that make up the consortium that will develop the project for the next three and a half years have met today in Barcelona to participate in its public presentation and mark the start of the research work.

As explained today in the public presentation Josep Ferré (Director General, IEMed), Jordi Moreras (Senior Fellow at the IEMed) and Kerstin Wilde (Project Advisor of the European Commission), CONNEKT will focus on the relevance of socioeconomic and socio-political inequalities in radicalisation processes.

The event also featured a debate between experts from some of the organisations that make up the project consortium, who explained how the research being carried out by CONNEKT will try to bridge certain existing gaps in violent extremism research. Corinne Torrekens (Université Libre de Bruxelles), Marco Pinfari (American University in Cairo), Tasnim Chirchi (Jasmine Foundation, Tunisia) and Lulzim Peci (Kosovar Institute for Policy Research and Development) looked at some of the seven factors that the project will analyse: religion, digitalisation, economic deprivation, territorial inequalities, transnational dynamics, socio-political demands, and educational, cultural and leisure opportunities. And these factors will be evaluated on three levels: transnational/state, community and individual. The idea is to determine their interrelationships and specific significance in the process that can lead to radicalisation.

The ultimate goal is, based on empirical research findings, to recommend tools and measures for the prevention of violent extremism. In this respect, the project moves away from the approach to prevention that is often taken in the field of security and that blurs the boundaries between detection (understood as identification of a possible impending threat) and prevention. Through research, CONNEKT aims to help recommend prevention strategies from the social field designed based on the voices of young people ‒ and, in particular, aimed at local authorities and social actors ‒ that enable tools to be provided to societies of the study countries and the EU to tackle a phenomenon as multidimensional as violent extremism