Exploring the discrimination-radicalization nexus: empirical evidence from youth and young adults in Belgium

Int J Public Health. 2019 Jul;64(6):897-908. doi: 10.1007/s00038-019-01226-z. Epub 2019 Mar 6.

Abstract

Objectives: Violence committed by extremists has serious violent and non-violent public health consequences. Researchers have hypothesized an association between experiencing discrimination and support for radicalization. This study examines the relationship between perceived discrimination and support for violent extremism among youth and young adults in Belgium.

Methods: A total of 2037 young adults between the ages of 16 and 30 participated in the study. We used multivariate linear regression to determine the association between sociodemographic characteristics, experiences of perceived discrimination, and scores on the Radical Intention Scale (RIS).

Results: Sex, religion, generation status, and language were associated with experiencing discrimination. Sex and language were associated with scores on the RIS. Discrimination based on language and political views was independently associated with scores on the RIS. Discrimination experienced during interactions with the police/justice system was also associated with RIS scores.

Conclusions: Public health primary prevention programs and policies that target the relationship between discrimination and sympathy for violent radicalization need to be situated on micro- to macro-levels. Of primary importance is the development of partnerships between stakeholders in public health, legal, political, and educational sectors to develop strategies to diminish discrimination and promote positive civic engagement among youth.

Keywords: Belgium; Discrimination; Radicalization; Young adults.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Aggression / psychology*
  • Belgium
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Prejudice / psychology*
  • Prejudice / statistics & numerical data*
  • Sex Factors
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Terrorism / psychology*
  • Terrorism / statistics & numerical data*
  • Violence / psychology*
  • Violence / statistics & numerical data*
  • Young Adult