Events and crises, both inside and outside of the EU – such as the COVID-19 pandemic, the return of the Taliban in Afghanistan and the war in Ukraine – can have a significant polarising effect on communities right across Europe. Such events give opportunities for terrorist and extremist groups to spread polarising narratives and disinformation, designed to exacerbate underlying and existing tensions and grievances, and in doing so, sow division among these communities.
Recent events in Ukraine alone, have given new opportunities for extremists and terrorists to radicalise and recruit. This can be seen in: the discrimination and victimisation of Russian minority communities across the EU and the proliferation of disinformation and conspiracy narratives designed to divide public opinion about events in Ukraine.
Meanwhile, the growing humanitarian crisis in Ukraine, the influx of foreign fighters into the country, and the largescale movement of refugees into neighbouring countries and across the EU, will only give more opportunities for extremists and terrorists to create dissension. Both the war in Ukraine and the COVID-19 pandemic are evidence that events and crises can have an impact, not just on those immediately affected, but on communities and individuals right across the EU.
In this Spotlight, RAN practitioners and experts from outside of the network, share their insights on the polarisation challenge facing EU Member States today, and some of their work in addressing it. This Spotlight includes content on the impact of events such as the war in Ukraine and the COVID-19 pandemic, the challenge posed by violent left wing and violent right wing extremist influencing efforts, and approaches to creating a share identity and building community resilience.
Some of these topics have been addressed by RAN Practitioners through Working Group meetings, eLearning and other activities in 2021, and will be further explored in 2022. This Spotlight publication captures the highlights from some of these activities and points practitioners to where they can read and find out more.
As always, we want to hear from you! If you would like to contribute to future editions of Spotlight, or if you have ideas for an article, interview or feature, please get in touch with the RAN Practitioners communications team.