WESTERN BALKANS SERIES FACT SHEET: Online Extremism - Challenges and Opportunities in the Western Balkans
This fact sheet provides a snapshot of findings from a RESOLVE Policy Note providing region-specific considerations relevant to effective policy and practitioner responses to the growing challenge posed by the proliferation of transnational extremist ideologies on online platforms, both violent jihadist and extreme right wing, in the Western Balkans.
The Western Balkans faces a double challenge from online extremism. Online platforms are facilitating the specific targeting of the region by diverse international extremist narratives. Meanwhile regional histories and geopolitics are being appropriated to justify extremist actions and narratives around the world. This dynamic was particularly clear in March 2019, when Brenton Tarrant carried out a devastating terrorist attack on Muslim places of worship in Christchurch, New Zealand. As Tarrant Facebook livestreamed the lead up to the attack, a Serb nationalist song with roots in the Yugoslav Wars—and more recently appropriated as an anthem among the international alt-right—could be heard playing in the background. His guns also referenced the region, daubed with the names ofhistorical figures from the Balkans who had resisted Ottoman invasion, and framing his actions as part of a parallel resistance against “Islamization.”
The Western Balkans’ presence in a global far-right online subculture tied to the radicalization of the Australian Tarrant may seem incongruous. However, this phenomenon is part of a wider trend that underscores the growing challenge posed by the proliferation of transnational extremist ideologies on online platforms, both violent jihadist and extreme right wing. In the Western Balkans, this poses a number of specific risks.
For more, see: Milo Comerford and Simeon Dukic, Online Extremism: Challenges and Opportunities in the Western Balkans. RESOLVE Network, 2022.
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