Policy and Research Papers

Youth Violence and the Challenges of Violent Extremism in Zinder

Building from individual interviews with young people from the fadas and palais and members of the local population, this study reveals the influence of the violent extremist ideology on young people from Zinder. They often get a rudimentary or indirect knowledge of Islam, through relatives or the Internet. They are also exposed to radical religious messages that are spread through social networks, traded or sold on CDs and USB drivers on the local market or through informal networks. In addition, charismatic religious leaders are supporting the spread of a rigorist and violent vision of the religion through regional preaching. The mosques and Koranic schools are playing a key role in the dissemination of these ideas, as the religious speech became tougher, and is now affecting more than just the religious aspect.

Thus, the study reveals that these messages and sermons are playing an important role in the knowledge and attraction young people have for actions led by extremist groups like Boko Haram. Furthermore, a significant number of young people have a positive vision of these actions, which they justify as acts of defiance towards a system perceived as unfair, as the State policies are not supporting people’s aspirations and are viewed as inadequate. Violence is perceived as a means of
pressure and assertion against a State seen as a repressive entity, while the religion is perceived as the only tool available for social regulation. In Zinder, where there are several religious movements, the study noticed the rise of the izala Salafists, a religious group opposed to the traditional Islam practiced in Niger and close to the Sufis and Malekites.

You can download the full report, Youth Violence and the Challenges of Violent Extremism in Zinder, by clicking the link below.