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Nikki Sterkenburg discusses the Online Presence of Extreme Right

The common image of extreme right activist is people wearing bomber jackets, flags and banners while shouting defiance during protest marches. Or that of the extremist internet trolls spreading racist ideologies while sitting home alone behind their computer screens. However, the line between extreme reactions on the internet and actually preparing an attack seems to be thinner than previously thought.

On 19 February 2020, ten people in the German city of Hanau were killed when a shooter opened fire on the visitors of two shisha lounges. 'The attack in Hanau isn't an isolated case, but fits into the longer line that includes Anders Breivik (Oslo and Utoya, 2011, 77 killed), Brenton Tarrant (Christchurch, 2019, 51 killed), Stephan Balliet (Halle, 2019, 2 killed) and others, says Nikki Sterkenburg, external PhD candidate at the Institute of Security and Global Affairs of Leiden University. 'None of the perpetrators of these attacks were members of extreme right organisations, but they did share an interest in the 'great replacement theory', that revolves around the idea that the inhabitants of Western countries are being replaced by people with a migration background.'


'The difficulty with extreme right activists is that there isn't an unambiguous profile that fits all these people we're talking about. That's what I've learned over the past few years,' says Sterkenburg. 'There's no caliphate or Al-Qaida-like umbrella organisation that unites the perpetrators in one way or another. The landscape is a mosaic of different networks, groups, personalities, opinions, ideologies, narratives and goals.'

You can read the full article (in Dutch) on the website of newspaper NRC.

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