LONDON: For the first time since data has been recorded, there was an equal number of referrals to the UK’s de-radicalization programs for far-right and Islamist extremists.
In the year leading up to March 2019, out of 5,738 referrals to the government’s counter-terrorism program Channel, 1,404 (24 percent) were for concerns related to Islamist radicalization and 1,389 (24 percent) related to right-wing radicalization.
Of those right-wingers, 62 percent were youths up to the age of 20, and in the 2017-2018 period, 682 children under the age of 18 were referred for links to the radical right. Children as young as 9 have been referred to Channel for right-wing radicalization.
One counter-extremism group, Exit UK, said 70 percent of the people it has helped leave far-right organizations were recruited online.
Islamophobic propaganda and messaging by far-right groups are often a major force behind their recruitment.
One former member of a far-right group told Sky News: “The enemy in our minds was Islam, (it) was the Muslim people, (it) was almost the police as well as the government, and journalists as well.”
The UK’s MI5 and various counter-extremism organizations have repeatedly cautioned of the growing threat of far-right violence in the UK and across Europe.
In 2019, Britain saw four far-right attacks or plots, one more than the number of Islamist incidents in the same period.