Today, we have published the last of the peer-reviewed academic papers we commissioned on extremism.
Academic research has been crucial to our national conversation on extremism, and has played a key part in our evidence gathering on all forms of extremism. All of the papers we commissioned have helped to inform our study on extremism in England and Wales.
We would like to thank all the academics for their work.
How we chose the papers
To ensure robust, up-to-date academic insight on the complex and contested issues raised in the first phase of our work was reflected in our report, in February 2019 we called for academic papers on 12 crucial questions.
Through the papers, we wanted to understand the objectives and tactics of extremists, online extremism, the drivers of extremism and current responses to it.
We chose the topics of these papers very carefully. They reflect the key questions on extremism outlined in the Terms of Reference for our report.
All papers were subject to a rigorous approvals process. Academics had to submit proposals, which were evaluated against criteria set out in the application forms, and by a panel drawn from our expert group, who made the decision on who contracts were awarded to.
We received 72 submissions, and we looked at every one of them carefully. There were 19 successful proposals.
Writers have been paid for their work, and their papers published subject to legal and peer review, and standard conditions.
We have scrutinised the papers – including through a conference involving the academics where they presented and were challenging on their papers – and have considered and scrutinised the insights for our report.
Two papers have not been published
Two of the papers that were commissioned will not be published: A Mapping of Islamist Trends in the UK by Dr Sadek Hamid, and The Structural and Cultural Determinants of Reciprocal Radicalisation amongst Islamist and Far Right Groups in the UK by Prof. Tahir Abbas.
After their successful proposals, we were made aware by a media outlet of antisemitic material tweeted by Dr Sadek Hamid and Prof. Tahir Abbas. We immediately took action to challenge these views. We asked for an explanation and that they attend a meeting with a Jewish group to better understand the impact of such material and views.
Although Dr Hamid agreed to meet a Jewish organisation as a condition of attending our academic conference, he subsequently declined to participate in this process. We believe this lack of understanding of the harm his behaviour causes reflects badly on him. As a result, we have taken the decision not to publish Dr Hamid’s paper. We will not be working with him again, unless his understanding demonstrably changes.
Prof. Abbas did meet with a Jewish organisation and engaged positively with us following the media article and we consider a line to have been drawn under this with him. However, his paper failed the peer review process and we are unable to publish it at this time. We are continuing to discuss this with Prof. Abbas.
Overall this was a successful way of generating new ideas and new insight into extremism. The media coverage of the papers has helped increase the understanding of the problems we face. The ideas contained within them have both shaped our report and recommendations and we are sure will continue to shape the debate on how best to counter hateful extremism for many years to come.
We would like to thank all the academics who took part and look forward to continuing to build the academic understanding of hateful extremism and the solutions that it requires.