The research report of the network "Connecting Research on Extremism in North Rhine-Westphalia", CoRE-NRW for short, presents the landscape of research on radicalisation and extremism in North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW), Germany and Europe in the period between August 2022 and July 2023. It serves as a guide and reference work to provide researchers and the interested (specialist) public with a systematic overview of where research is currently being conducted on which topics.
The research landscape presented does not only refer to projects and institutions on Islamism and right-wing extremism. It also takes into account related research, for example on anti-Semitism, racism and conspiracy narratives. The research report includes individual academic projects and research institutes that have worked on radicalisation and extremism during the reporting period. However, it is by no means an exhaustive account. Individual research projects and initiatives by individual researchers (such as PhD projects) are not included. There are also research projects which, for various reasons, do not wish to be made public and therefore do not appear in the report.
In recent years, it has become clear that the threat of extremism and terrorism is not a temporary and limited phenomenon. Against a backdrop of multiple crises, the potential for radicalisation has recently been high. While the coronavirus pandemic was still reverberating in politics and society in 2022, Russia's war of aggression against Ukraine led to heated public debates about armament, arms supplies, energy shortages and inflation. Added to this are social polarisations around domestic issues such as refugees and immigration, climate and gender. Most recently, the Hamas attack on Israel on 7 October and the subsequent global attacks on Jews—including here in Germany—have revealed worrying levels of anti-Semitism.
Trust in the government's ability to act and in democratic institutions declines in times of crisis. It is now widely accepted that the greatest threat to an open society comes from domestic right-wing extremism in all its forms. The recent electoral success and popularity of the right-wing Alternative für Deutschland (AfD) party illustrate the extent of radicalisation in Germany better than any other indicator.