Radicalization in Portugal: a brief reflection

Through the realization of a study on the national state-of-art on radicalization among young people, Inova+, as Portuguese researcher of the YEIP, led a reflection on the importance of the phenomenon in the country.

The data collected reflected mainly the absence of a policy for the prevention of radicalization of youth, in general, and in schools or online, in particular. The present context towards radicalization in the national territory mainly explains this fact. As reported by the authorities[1], djihadist extremism is today more a preoccupation than a real threat. Even if it exists a real concern regarding terrorism, the government has not yet divulgated any exact numbers on how many young people have been detected as radicalized in the country[2]. The media has been speaking about “new cases”, and 2 individuals from around the North of Lisbon who promoted Daesh on internet, but no accurate numbers are available from the Government[3].  Also, even if it has gone public that some Portuguese joined Daesh in Syria, no additional information has been given on their actual situation.

On the contrary of its neighbours countries, Portugal Police services have registered a very few number of radicalized young people, and the discussions led by Inova+ during the research phase of the YEIP corroborate this situation at local level.

Nevertheless, the current context and the European Union have pressured Portugal to put in place some new measures to tackle radicalization[4], in the street but also online. The government is currently working in this aspect, but we can already perceive some evidences of this growing concern, such as the training of militaries, police and prison workers, and a project in universities[5] to detect signs of radicalization among young people. A Portuguese Association (Associação Portuguesa de Conversas de Psicologia) working in prisons has equally just started to implement a European project: “Fighting Against Radicalization[6]”.

The “chance” of Portugal is that the country has been quite protected by the phenomenon of radicalization which hurt Europe in the last few years. A very few young people are currently touched by the jihadist movement in the country, so the prevention of risk is central, to tackle it since the beginning and avoid its development in one more European country.

As such, we are convinced that there is currently room in Portugal to implement an innovative radicalization prevention model, based on the GLM model and Positive Psychology. The autonomy let to schools, and TEIP particularly, at local level, must be explored, to identify the zones where young people are at risk, and establish partnerships with the schools concerned.

More information about the progress of the project in Portugal here and here.

Aurélie Delater, YEIP Researcher, Inova+.

[1] Internal Security Annual Report. 2016

[2] https://www.dn.pt/portugal/interior/daesh-secretas-identificaram-radicalizados-em-portugal-5446568.html

[3] http://rr.sapo.pt/noticia/50805/estado-islamico-recruta-jovens-portugueses-em-lisboa

[4] https://www.dn.pt/portugal/interior/ue-impoe-medidas-contra-o-terrorismo-portugal-ainda-sem-planos-aprovados-5763044.html

[5] “Safe future” – Futuro em segurança.

[6] http://24.sapo.pt/atualidade/artigos/associacao-portuguesa-participa-em-projeto-europeu-para-prevenir-radicalizacao-de-reclusos