Are we close to radicalization?
For several weeks now France has been increasingly affected by a strong and vivid movement of Protestants called “Gilet’s Jaunes”. From a peaceful movement protesting against economic challenges due to policies put in place by the Government to a “violent mainstream ” movement a lot has happened and is still happening in the land of human rights. This intriguing situation calls for peculiar analysis of what is really going on, leading some experts to wonder if this has not just turned into a radical movement on its way to violent extremism. Are we facing a radicalization of the Yellow Jackets (Gilets Jaunes) ?
One of the hypothesized root causes of violent extremism is “transforming grievances into violent actions”. Such a process is fueled by some personal and societal factors according to experts. Michael Downing, deputy chief of the Counter-Terrorism and Special Operations Bureau at the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD), refers to lack of identity, vulnerabilities, lack of attachment, and lack of societal inclusion. Thus, other experts identified broad systemic factors such as lack of socioeconomic opportunities, marginalization and discrimination, poor governance, violations of human rights and the rule of law, prolonged and unresolved conflicts. The list is not exhaustive for the discussion is ongoing in academia.
Referring to some of the above factors one is definitely tempted to identify the current situation in France as being favorable to radicalization and probably violent extremism. A close scrutiny of the situation could reveal some lack of societal inclusion, lack of socioeconomic opportunities, “poor governance” (according to the Yellow Jackets), and the existence of a prolonged and unresolved conflict between the street (Protestants) and the Government. It is therefore comprehensive that the attention is on the high probability to witness a radicalization of the “Gilets Jaunes” movement in France.
View from the Government angle, elements such as the normalization of violence throughout the protests, the revolutionary speeches, the clear intention of the Protestants to take down the Macron’s regime, are perceived as indicators of radicalization of the movement. Important infrastructures have been destroyed as well as businesses making the Government believe that they actors are focused more on hurting the Nation that building it up.
The above analysis provides facts that allow to conclude that if the “Gilets Jaunes” are not yet radicalised, they are pretty far from it. The current social and economical context in France is linked to more severe crisis such as the “Euro” crisis, the CFA crisis, and a certain identity crisis between the people and the leadership. Each of the crisis above is full of ramifications and must be tackled appropriately to find a solution that could prevent France to face violent extremism. It the latter occurs it will affect the entire European Union which currently under significant pressure. The first issue to tackle in France is the identity. The distance between the leadership and the people must be reduced in order to get the needed stability to handle the two other crisis that might help fixing the critical economic situation in France upon which most of the Protestants’ demands are based.
Radicalization is visible in the atitude of the people protesting in France, but violent extremism could still be avoid if appropriate measures are taken by both sides.