In recent years, the border regions of Niger have seen an increase in activity by violent extremist groups. This research, carried out in October 2016, examined why people become radicalised in Agadez, the northern part of Niger.
Most people see radicalisation as a linear process, whereby a set of individual factors make a person more vulnerable to adopting radical beliefs. We conceptualised radicalisation as a dynamic process, where individual and structural factors interact to produce the potential for radicalisation.
- There was widespread support for the adoption of sharia but no evidence that those taking this position were more likely to join extremist groups.
- People across a range of professions supported sharia, including teachers, livestock breeders, civil servants and traders. Individual factors such as economic status did not predict support.
- Secular democracy was perceived by many as a system that is easily corrupted and too lenient on those who break the law. For many, sharia was understood as a system of ethics that would bring justice and order.
- In explaining why people joined extremist groups, local people stressed the importance of structural factors such as poverty, inequality and rising materialism.