How Quilliam helped ten people leave extremism behind

24 August 2015

Quilliam’s latest report In and Out of Extremism features testimonies from 10 former extremists who have now deradicalised and provides analysis on their shared experiences.

Building on Maajid Nawaz’s personal deradicalisation story In and Out of Islamism, this report looks at the human processes of radicalisation and deradicalisation in five former far-right extremists and five former Islamist extremists. Combining interviews and correspondence with the former extremists, with Quilliam’s own expertise and experience in these processes, this report synthesises the human with the academic to provide a deeper understanding of a complex phenomenon.

• In particular, this report shows factors which increase vulnerability to radicalisation, the ways in which this vulnerability is exploited by extremist groups and individuals in the radicalisation process, and the factors that prompt escalation from contemplation to action.

In and Out of Extremism finds that when political grievances are combined with personal grievances, individuals consider extremist ideologies and narratives to better understand the world or to find perceived solutions to their personal difficulties. While these ideologies and narratives appear comforting in their simplicity, the former extremists found that they seldom changed the world or improved their lives.

• This report also sheds light on the factors that have intervened in the radicalisation process to prompt the individuals to consider their commitment to extremist ideologies and narratives. In and Out of Extremism finds that challenging extremist messaging is central to this intervention and that the message should be targeted for the individual, with the identity, language, and even appearance of the messenger being of central importance.

• Quilliam is well-known for our contribution to the macro debate on counter-extremism strategy and policy, but this report shows our value at a micro level, providing inspiration and support in deradicalising extremists.

• In policy terms, this report also considers the value of refining the teaching of critical thinking skills in schools to reduce vulnerability to radicalisation, and of improving progressive online counter-extremism efforts through the development of a greater number and variety of counter-narratives.

Quilliam Chairman Maajid Nawaz says, “It is always heartening to hear that Quilliam is making a real difference to people’s lives. Both as a source of inspiration to those experiencing personal difficulties and as a source of active support for those seeking to leave extremist organisations, Quilliam hopes to continue challenging extremism and inspiring change.”

Quilliam Managing Director Haras Rafiq says, “In and Out of Extremism adds to the debate around radicalisation and deradicalisation with an interesting personal perspective and acts as a timely reminder of the human aspects of these phenomena. We hope to encourage others to leave extremism behind and commit to tackling the poisonous ideologies that threaten our society.”

We look forward to welcoming some of the former extremists who provided testimonies for this report to our Summer Ball this weekend, along with 300 other guests, to build a stronger civil society to tackle extremism of all kinds.

The report is available here. For media comment, please contact 02071827277 or [email protected]