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Jihadist extremism is rapidly growing in France and the challenges to combat it are getting more and more complicated. This article explored the different ways that individuals have been radicalized in recent times and the impact that the internet, particularly social networking sites, has had on the recruiting process. Police monitoring of extremists used to be easier as individuals would be going to radical mosques where the radicalization process would begin. Because of this organized layout of radicalization, the monitoring process was generally manageable by police.
The challenge posed today is very different though as many individuals are self-radicalized or radicalized in prison. Videos circulate the internet that contains footage of violence and martyrdom carried out by extremist groups. Propaganda on the internet can spread very quickly which often leads to susceptible individuals being exposed to high amounts of inaccurate or wrongly glorified material. The more often this susceptible individual is exposed to it, the higher their desire to act based on what they saw. The propagandists have the goal to sow their seeds of thought to translate into action. I feel as if the rise of these social networking sites also contributes a fair bit to making these individuals feels as if what they’re doing is okay. If they meet people online who are thinking about the same things and fell for the same propaganda they did, they are more likely to rationalize and appropriate their behaviour. Through having people you can associate with, the call to act will be greater as they will be highly influenced by these other people. The propaganda creates a religious commitment for the individual and the interactions with others of the same view on social networking sites encourage them to act.
To add onto the difficulties posed by the internet, the radicals often come from a lower income background in France. The lures of radicalization in my opinion pull harder on those who have less as radicalization tends to offer them something more than their life offers them at the moment. This is where I find that propaganda is most crucial, as those who don’t have a lot in a generally rich country, are susceptible to false information by extremist groups. These lower privileged people can have their worldviews altered through information they find on the internet, which will create an ethos for them based on these altered worldviews. In order for the French government to combat this rise in radicalization, I believe they should try and cut down the gaps in French society between the poor and the rich and decrease the amount of ethnic enclaves that have been made in the segregated suburban housing projects. This integration can hopefully reduce the amount of youth getting radicalized. The other option is to decrease personal liberties. I don’t think that’s a measure that should be taken.