The following elements are crucial for violent extremism:
- A fundamental vision of the future (extremism)
- which is not inclusive (excludes certain groups, the “dissenters”),
- and is supported by a group of “peers”,
- who uses violent methods (including structural and cultural violence).
This equation can be used to analyze extremist violence:
VIOLENT EXTREMISM = (SUBMISSION OF DISSIDENTS + DIRECT VIOLENCE) X (BY LIKE-MINDED)
There are two key elements in this equation. The idea of “those who think differently” and the idea of violence. On the one hand there are “the others” that someone tries to submiss (seen as an enemy, inferior or an obstacle), and on the other hand there are “like-minded people” with whom one identifies and with whom extremism is constructed.
WITH LIKE-MINDED: Violent extremism is a type of violence that responds to a common identity, an ideology that identifies a common enemy and has a vision of the world that it seeks to achieve. It is carried out by a group that wants to suppress “the other” in order to change the world. For example: There is a big difference between whether a person commits multiple homicides for personal reasons or as part of an ideology of a group, even if the connection to the group is simply through a common identity.
SUPPRESSION OF DIFFERENT THINKERS to achieve their vision of the world. This type of violence is exercised against those who think differently, who have been declared as enemies who try to prevent their visions from being achieved. Groups that employ violent extremism often have a common enemy, and the group’s existence is justified by the struggle against those who think differently.
DIRECT VIOLENCE: Any form of extremism inherently implies cultural violence (since its followers are overpowering and exclude other ideologies). This form of extremism also exercises direct violence when intentions are to be realized or the extremist worldview is to be enforced.
The breakdown of the definition into different practices and extremist ideologies shows that the line with violent extremism is often blurry, with the line appearing clearer as to which ideologies are extremist and which are not. See the subdivision on pages 14 and 15 of the manual.