"Non-violent extremism"

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Concept.png "Non-violent extremism"
(“extremism”,  enemy image)
Non violent extremism.jpg
Interest of • Counter Extremism Project
• Alex Schmid
An enemy image used to try to justify violent repression of those who advocate non-violent change.

"Non violent extremism" is an enemy image currently being developed in UK for use against proponents of non-violence. It was launched in January 2011, 5 years after the phrase "violent extremism" was introduced in the wake of the 7/7 bombings. In 2015, UK Prime Minister Theresa May claimed that when “non-violent extremism goes unchallenged, the values that bind our society together fragment.”[1] In 2017, the conservative government were experiencing difficulties in using this phrase legislatively, due to its incompatibility with more long established traditions such as freedom of speech and human rights.[2]


The phrase "violent extremism" was launched in July 2005. "Non violent extremism" was launched in January 2011, according to Google trends data.

Google trend non-violent extremism.png
Ian Fantom with a shirt declaring that "I am a non-violent extremist". The obverse reads "9/11 and 7/7 were staged."[3]

Association with Violent extremism

Alex Schmid published a paper in 2014 which stated that the distinction between "violent extremism" and "non-violent extremism" was illegitimate.

Legislative problems

The Guardian reported in 2017 on the UK Government's plans to ban "non-violent extremism" by citing an anonymous "source close to the process" that "The bill is sinking without trace. They cannot get a working definition of extremism – lawyers are effectively saying it's incompatible with issues like free speech".[4]


Related Quotation

Extremism“the distinction between “non-violent extremism” and “violent extremism” is not a valid one.”Alex SchmidMay 2014


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