How do teenagers have so many followers?

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Why does Salafism attract young people?

Salafism is attractive to some young people because it offers them a seemingly clear orientation. He contrasts the overwhelming diversity and confusion of the modern world with a black and white view. The young person no longer has to decide for himself; the unequivocal commandments and prohibitions of Salafism relieve him of this.

Belong to, be superior

  • For many disoriented young followers, Salafism creates the feeling: “I belong to them and I am in harmony with others.” The young people feel recognized as a person - and also as a member of a global community based on solidarity.
  • A Salafist lifestyle also signals a clear demarcation from the majority in society; in her it creates attention and fear. This can be attractive to young people who rebel against the mainstream and want to stand against the world of their parents' generation.
  • In addition, Salafism gives young people a feeling of superiority - over other religions and over non-Salafist Muslims: after all, they belong to "true" Islam! Young people feel at home in this “elitist” community.

Salafism gives young people a sense of superiority.

Salafist groups target young people on the Internet where they are most frequently: in social networks, on online platforms and on instant messaging services. They adapt to the world of young people in Western countries and use their terms, symbols and z. B. Emoticons.

Even young children are courted

Even children of preschool and elementary school age already have Salafist groups in their sights. For example, the website of the propaganda network “Die Wahre Religion”, which has been banned in Germany since November 15, 2016, has its own section “Children in Islam”. There were games and handicraft tips, worksheets, stories, prayers and audio books to download or print out.


The radical Islamist terrorist organization “Islamic State” (IS) had developed an app for children that could initially be accessed via the Google Play Store. The app icon shows the black flag of the IS. The app is primarily intended to introduce young children to the Arabic alphabet. Pictures e.g. B. of war implements stand for the individual letters. The users of the apps are addressed as "children of the caliphate".

IS: "War of Faith" as an exciting adventure

The terrorist organization “Islamic State” (IS) is also increasingly targeting children and young people with its jihadist propaganda. In a form that is attractive for adolescents, she praises the alleged "religious war" of the Islamists as an exciting adventure that expresses masculinity, courage and devotion. Photos of children and young people are disseminated, e.g. B. in training on weapons in terrorist training camps.
Such visual material (even the participation of young people in executions is shown) is also intended to give opponents the impression that the jihadist movement will have enough offspring for the distant future.

The topic of online radicalization at re: publika 2017

At the re: publika - a festival for the digital society - Prof. Peter Neumann presented the complex entanglements and diversity of radicalization processes and demonstrated the importance of social networks for international terrorism. His lecture in English can be viewed on video.

The propaganda spread on the Internet and online networks help active members and sympathizers of global jihad see themselves as part of a single, supposedly elitist movement.

Youth in Jihad

Young people have also traveled to jihad. They usually enter the scene between the ages of 16 and 19. Around ten percent of those who traveled to jihad from Bavaria are minors.

  • Young men are particularly spurred on by reports of community and adventure. The initially great military successes of the so-called Islamic State also motivated many young people.
  • Some girls and young women are attracted to the prospect of living alongside a jihadist. The role of women is deliberately praised as that of the wife and mother who supports her husband and is valued for it.
On adventure romance in the social networks ...

The exchange in social networks plays a special role in influencing young people to leave the country. Islamist propaganda uses clichés of adventure and campfire romance to convey an image that inspires young people who are hungry for adventure.

... the disillusionment follows in the jihad area

Jihadists have reported military successes and glorified life as fighters. Women have described their everyday life in the jihad areas in a highly embellished manner. The health, financial and social security was praised across the board, it was said that there were hardly any deficiencies. Young jihadists from the West realized that the reality in jihad areas did not correspond in any way to these descriptions after painfully sobering experiences on site.

The younger, the more active

Radicalized Muslims living in the second or third generation in Germany (“homegrown spectrum”) and radicalized converts are often younger and more active than other members of the scene. The reason: Young people are particularly easy to influence. That is why they radicalize themselves particularly quickly - up to the point of deciding to emigrate to a jihad area or to carry out violent actions in their home country.
Even children not only consume jihadist propaganda on the Internet, but also spread it.

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