For many policy makers, radicalisation is a problem of ideology and much of the UK’s strategy in combating it revolves around a continuing confrontation with a dangerous strand of Islamist belief. However, as a new report by the Oasis Foundation demonstrates, a whole range of factors can make a young person vulnerable to radicalisation and a greater depth of understanding is needed if we, as a society, have a chance of protecting young people from a lifetime of danger.
Enough is Enough: Addressing the Root Causes of Radicalisation provides a detailed review of academic and practitioner evidence and Oasis’s own experience, of what drives youth radicalisation.
It identifies a significant number of common ‘push-factors’ shared by Islamist extremism, gang culture, political extremism and racial hatred, including: lack of identity, belonging and purpose, deprivation and economic marginalisation, mental health issues and community and family breakdown.
The report suggests that where these conditions exist, young people - particularly young men - will be vulnerable to the forces of radicalisation. The precise nature of that radicalisation will depend on context: a Muslim youth from Manchester’s Moss Side will be vulnerable to Islamist extremism, a black youth from Tottenham to gang culture, a white youth from coastal Kent to political extremism. But the root causes of radicalisation are crucially similar and far more deep-seated than any of our national policy responses suggest.
Enough is Enough goes on to argue that any meaningful response to youth radicalisation in all its many forms needs to take these complex layers of causality into account. Anti-radicalisation policy cannot simply focus on Islamist ideology and hope to resolve the crisis of youth radicalisation that is happening across our towns and cities.