How ethnic and religious discrimination drive violent extremism 

Democratic states need to guard against discriminatory practices that could contribute to violence.

The rights to equal protection and treatment before the law, without distinction as to religion or ethnicity are universally accepted human rights. States occasionally violate these rights while fighting terrorism and violent extremism. Such responses are counterproductive since they discriminate against communities and help recruitment into violent extremist groups. By discussing religion and ethnicity, this report addresses how democratic states need to guard against discriminatory practices that contribute to developing attitudes leading to violence and recruitment into violent extremist organisations.

About the authors

Allan Ngari is a Senior Researcher in the Transnational Threats and International Crime Programme of the ISS. 

Denys Reva is a Consultant in the Transnational Threats and International Crime Programme of the ISS.

About the project

This report is part of a series of papers on democracy, security, and violent extremism prepared for the Community of Democracies’ Democracy and Security Dialogue. The project seeks to foster greater collaboration among democratic governments, donors, civil society and academics to improve security outcomes and create a more conducive environment for the strengthening of democracy around the world. For more on the project and related materials, including the final report, visit

Picture: ©US Navy photo/Tyler Preston

Development partners
This report was made possible with the support of the Government of Norway. The ISS is also grateful for support from the other members of the ISS Partnership Forum: the Hanns Seidel Foundation and the governments of Australia, Canada, Denmark, Finland, Ireland, Japan, Netherlands, Sweden and the USA.
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