New database launched to counter extremism

 A new global counter-extremism database has been launched in London. 

The EMAN Network, standing for Extremist Monitoring Analysis Network aims to "combat hate speech and extremist ideologies by profiling radical individuals and organisations of all faiths".

Far-right extremists, anti-Semitic tweeters and those who propagate a violent interpretation of Islam and other religions, are all profiled in EMAN's database which currently holds around 150 entries.

Each entry lists the actions or words of the alleged disseminators of hate speech that has brought them to the attention of the researchers, backed up in some cases with videos of their sermons. Even the former LBC broadcaster Katie Hopkins is included for her defamatory remarks about Muslims. So too are some obscure Sri Lankan and Burmese Buddhists. 

Who is on the list?

Of the 150 entries listed, 85 are Islamist Extremists, 10 are Jewish Extremists, nine are Christian fundamentalists, six are White Supremacists, three are Hindutva Nationalists and two are Buddhist Extremists. There are, in addition, 28 organisations of whom the largest proportion are Islamist. Only 10 of the individuals profiled and three of the organisations are based in the UK. The rest are distributed around the world but with a concentration in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Qatar.

The launch of EMAN was held last week in London's Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre and supported by a panel of speakers including the Chairman of Parliament's Foreign Affairs Committee, Tom Tugendhat, the reformed extremist and author of The Islamist, Ed Husain and an expert on far-right and neo-Nazi groups, Julia Ebner.

Ms Ebner gave a chilling and detailed account of the recent spread of online recruiting to far-right extremist groups during the pandemic. Since January 2020, she said, there had been 789 anti-Semitic incidents across the UK and 90 attacks on UK phone masts by conspiracy theorists. Her presentation included a photograph of British neo-Nazi women posing last year for a "Miss Hitler UK" contest.

Video gaming, she said, was playing a major role in recruiting new followers, with participants working their way up an imaginary rank scale according to how much hate propaganda they are able to spread. 

Ed Husain, a former supporter of the radical group Hizb ut-Tahrir, pointed out that the first victims of Islamist attacks are very often Muslims themselves. Islamist extremists, he said, despise the plurality of western society, attack what he called "the citizenship of the individual" as well as gender equality. How a society treats women, he said, was a barometer of the health of society.

EMAN is hardly the first research organisation to compile a database of extremists. Extensive work has previously been carried out by the Henry Jackson Society, King's College and the International Institute for Strategic Studies. 

Even the UAE embassy distributed to journalists a database of dozens of alleged terrorists living in Qatar, during its spat with that country.

But EMAN's founder and director Mohamed Hineidi believes this is one of the most comprehensive databases to cover all forms of extremism across faiths and borders. He said he hoped to recruit more researchers, expand the database and begin a working dialogue with the UK government.



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