Belgian State Security warns of 'alarming radicalisation of young people'

The threat of right-wing extremism in tandem with anti-government extremism continues to grow in Belgium, a new report by the country's State Security Service (VSSE) warns. The service sees the "alarming radicalisation of young people" as a major trend within right-wing extremism.

For several years now, the VSSE has noted that right-wing extremists increasingly target the government or other 'establishment' symbols, including the press, politicians and academics – particularly virologists. Right-wing extremists are increasingly targeting the government instead of more "traditional" targets, such as asylum centres, mosques or synagogues. "Since the outbreak of the war in Ukraine and rising energy prices, we notice right-wing extremists once again trying to stir up anger and hatred against the government," the VSSE points out.

The VSSE notes that more and more young people in Belgium are rapidly radicalising via their computers or smartphones, some turning into hate propagandists and 'keyboard warriors' inciting hatred and violence. "The graphic style and the highly hateful and downright violent content of their messages on various social media platforms, such as Telegram, bear certain similarities to Islamic State's glorification of violence a few years ago," the report reads.

Over the past two years, the VSSE has passed on several cases involving radicalised young people to police forces and the public prosecutor's office. Some cases involved minors with radical Nazi and anti-Semitic views preaching hate and violence online, others involved young people making violent threats themselves. "The timely detection and timely prevention of these impressionable and impulsive young people turning to violence will be a serious challenge for the VSSE and the other intelligence and security services in the coming years," says Belgium's State Security Service.


Riots during an anti-immigration protest march in Brussels in 2018 © BELGA PHOTO JONAS ROOSENS

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