DPI Focus: Influencers, Social Media and Political Islam

Islamist groups in social networks exploit current topics to spread religious extremism among young people.

The new DPI Focus of the Austrian Fund for the Documentation of Religiously Motivated Political Extremism (Documentation Centre Political Islam) provides information on the activities of Islamist influencers using the examples of Generation Islam, Realität Islam and Muslim Interaktiv. With professional social media work and real-life rallies, the initiatives target a young audience throughout the German-speaking world. Current social debates are reinterpreted in terms of an Islamist understanding and used for their own purposes. The addressees of their campaigns and appearances are primarily Muslim youths, with the long-term goal to slowly familiarise them with Islamist ideas and a closed world view distinct from democratic value.

Breeding ground for radicalisation

The mainly male activists of the three groups seem to be ideologically close to the Islamist movement Hizb ut-Tahrir, which is banned in Germany. The organisations try to instill fear and distrust towards the democratic rule-of-law based state and its institutions. In their social media work they use popular themes to consolidate a defensive attitude towards open society among young Muslims. Advocating for the introduction of a caliphate, for example, creates the breeding ground for further radicalisation. The subscribers to the social media channels come from all over the German-speaking countries. Critical voices, such as extremism prevention centres or scientific institutions, are publicly discredited.

Their radical rhetoric is also evident in referencing global events in their statements. Generation Islam, for example, hailed the Taliban’s takeover of Afghanistan as a victory over the West. Realität Islam, on the other hand, called on the Muslim population to embrace the burqa on social media channels. Beyond social networks, Muslim Interaktiv repeatedly presents itself as a militant group with explicitly martial demonstrations. At the group’s latest protests in Hamburg in February 2023, a strict gender segregation could also be observed.

The report can be downloaded here (German edition)

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