Radical ideas can have a place in a democratic society. They are part of the democratic difference of opinions and ensure that new themes and interests are taken into account. A more serious problem arises when radicalisation processes give rise to violent forms of extremism. Violent extremism can manifest itself in various forms of ideology, from extreme right and left to violent jihadism. In recent years, our society has become increasingly concerned about extremist violence. Almost 500 foreign fighters left Belgium for Syria, where they joined violent jihadist groups such as ISIS. That same organisation has also committed terrorist attacks in various European cities. Policies are developed, both on the national and international level, to counter violent extremism and terrorism. In Flanders, this policy mainly focuses on prevention. Challenges such as polarisation are also a point for attention, against a backdrop of social tensions.
Good policy is founded on a solid scientific advice. The Flemish Peace Institute wishes to contribute to this by means of research into the prevention of various forms of radicalisation and violent extremism. We do this by drawing the attention of policymakers to existing research and transposing it to the Flemish context, as well as performing research into how Flemish policy is put into practice.