Fuelled by the COVID-19 pandemic and the corresponding measures taken by governments and authorities, there has been a surge in anti-government action throughout Europe. Several extremist groups, both from the violent left and right, have been feeding on and propagating misinformation, disinformation, conspiracy narratives and fake news. This reaches a broad audience of people who in turn become violent towards authorities.
As a result of recent events, we see a growing mix of anti vaxxers (the anti-COVID vaccination movement), conspiracists – including those spreading mis- and disinformation about Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, who are often the same groups spreading mis- and disinformation about the COVID-19 pandemic – climate extremists, and many more. The accumulative result is an increase in public distrust, particularly among vulnerable individuals, towards authorities and governments.
This edition of the RAN Practitioners Spotlight magazine therefore aims to take a look at the challenge posed by violent left wing and anarchist extremism (VLWAE), including how conspiracy narratives have fostered anti-government sentiments, and how VLWAE and VRWE groups have exploited the COVID-19 pandemic to turn people to violence. Within this Spotlight you can also find links to various publications and products produced by RAN Practitioners on the subject.
As always, we want to hear from you! If you would like to contribute to future editions of the Spotlight magazine, or if you have ideas for an article, interview or feature, please get in touch with the RAN Practitioners communications.