A. From “The definition of ‘extremism'”by Professors Dzhansarayeva Rima Yerenatovna & Bissengaly Lilya Bissengalyevna (Al-Farabi Kazakh National University):
Extremism in the modern sense of the word is the embodiment of a certain kind of negative developments, which aim to generate members of the international community doubts about the possibility of maintaining stability in the world on the principles of democracy, respect for human rights and freedoms of man and citizen.
definition of extremism «is an activity for the dissemination of ideas, trends, doctrines, which are aimed at the elimination of the possibility of legal pluralism, free exchange of ideas; on the establishment of a single ideology as a state; on the division of people according to class, property, race, nationality or religion; on the rejection of absolute values of human rights» [2, 10]. Thus, in the modern scientific literature extremism in its broadest sense is defined as the ideology of providing for compulsory dissemination of its principles, intolerance to opponents and forced their suppression.
Extremism is endowed with the following features, which include:
- Denial of dissent and intolerance to supporters of other views (political, economic, religious, etc.);
- Attempts ideological justification of violence against not only active opponents, but also to any person who did not share beliefs extremists;
- Appeal to any known ideological or religious teachings, claims to their «true» interpretation or «deepening» and, at the same time, the actual denial of many basic provisions of these exercises;
- The dominance of the emotional impact of ways in the process of promoting extremist ideas; appeal to the feelings and prejudices of the people, not to their reason;
- The creation of charismatic leaders image extremist movements, striving to present these individuals «infallible», and all of their orders are not negotiable [3, 112].
It should be borne in mind that all of these features not only occur, but in most cases, work closely together; derive one from the other; are unbreakable inner connection. Most of them are inherent in any extremist movement — from radical religious sects to the pro-fascist organizations.
under the extremism should be understood as the activities of social, political and religious associations or other organizations, the media, individuals in planning, organizing, training, financing or otherwise contribute to its implementation, including through the provision of funds, real estate, training, printing and material-technical base, telephone, fax or other means of communication, information services, and other material and technical resources, as well as actions aimed at the establishment of a single ideology as a state; the excitation of the class, property, racial, national or religious hatred, humiliation of national dignity; on the rejection of absolute values of human rights; a violent change of the constitutional order and violation of the integrity of the state; to undermine the security, as well as public calls for such activities or to commit such acts.
2. Report on the objectives and means of combating political extremism in Russia. – M. – 1999. – 86 p.
3. Aruchov Z. S. Extremism in modern Islam. – Makhachkala. – 1999. – 212 p.
—Bissengaly Lilya Bissengalyevna, The definition of “extremism”, Austrian Journal of Humanities and Social Sciences (2015). Retrieved from https://cyberleninka.ru/article/n/the-definition-of-extremism.pdf (expired link). Download pdf.
B. From “Addressing Extremism” by Drs. Peter T. Coleman (Columbia University) and Andrea Bartoli (George Mason University):
Defining ExtremismExtremism is a complex phenomenon, although its complexity is often hard to see. Most simply, it can be defined as activities (beliefs, attitudes, feelings, actions, strategies) of a character far removed from the ordinary. In conflict settings it manifests as a severe form of conflict engagement. However, the labeling of activities, people, and groups as “extremist”, and the defining of what is “ordinary” in any setting is always a subjective and political matter. Thus, we suggest that any discussion of extremism be mindful of the following:
- Typically, the same extremist act will be viewed by some as just and moral (such as pro-social“freedom fighting”), and by others as unjust and immoral (antisocial “terrorism”) depending on the observer’s values, politics, moral scope, and the nature of their relationship with the actor.
- In addition, one’s sense of the moral or immoral nature of a given act of extremism (such as Nelson Mandela’s use of guerilla war tactics against the South African Government) may change as conditions (leadership, world opinion, crises, historical accounts, etc.) change. Thus, the current and historical context of extremist acts shapes our view of them.
- Power differences also matter when defining extremism. When in conflict, the activities of members of low power groups tend to be viewed as more extreme than similar activities committed by members of groups advocating the status quo. In addition, extreme acts are more likely to be employed by marginalized people and groups who view more normative forms of conflict engagement as blocked for them or biased. However, dominant groups also commonly employ extreme activities (such as governmental sanctioning of violent paramilitary groups or the attack in Waco by the FBI in the U.S.).
- Extremist acts often employ violent means, although extremist groups will differ in their preference for violent vs. non-violent tactics, in the level of violence they employ, and in the preferred targets of their violence (from infrastructure to military personnel to civilians to children). Again, low power groups are more likely to employ direct, episodic forms of violence (such as suicide bombings), whereas dominant groups tend to be associated with more structural or institutionalized forms (like the covert use of torture or the informal sanctioning of police brutality).
- Although extremist individuals and groups (such as Hamas and Islamic Jihad) are often viewed as cohesive and consistently evil, it is important to recognize that they may be conflicted or ambivalent psychologically as individuals, and/or contain a great deal of difference and conflict within their groups. For instance, individual members of Hamas may differ considerably in their willingness to negotiate their differences with the Palestinian Authority and, ultimately, with certain factions in Israel.
- Ultimately, the core problem that extremism presents in situations of protracted conflict is less the severity of the activities (although violence, trauma, and escalation are obvious concerns) but more so the closed, fixed, and intolerant nature of extremist attitudes, and their subsequent imperviousness to change.
—Drs. Peter T. Coleman and Andrea Bartoli “Addressing Extremism” (n.d.)
C. Definitions online: