Women can also be extremists

By Natalie Hekmat

When we imagine extremists, we often think of aggressive and violent men. This was the consensus of the speakers at the symposium “Extrem.ist.in. Women in Salafist and right-wing extremist milieus” in Stuttgart-Hohenheim. However, women are also frequently found in such groups and take on essential tasks there. For example, they transmit extremist ideologies or become violent toward people who correspond to their image of the enemy. However, they are often not taken seriously as perpetrators and are seen as victims of or just “the wives of” male perpetrators.

According to the speakers Derya Şahan and Judith Raner, belonging to extremist milieus should be taken very seriously. These groups usually glorify violence. For example, Salafists call for terrorist attacks on the Western world and spread hate messages. Supporters of radical right-wing ideologies use violence against refugees or set fire to initial reception centers. Left-wing extremist men and women also sometimes see damage to property and violence against police officers as legitimate means.

But why do women decide to commit such acts? Extremist groups offer easy answers to unanswered questions, offer their own “truths” and convey their own values. They promise a fight for supposed “justice”. They also make it possible to belong to a community, which is particularly attractive to people who live in unstable family relationships. Young people are particularly susceptible to such “promises”, as they are still in the discovery phase of their character, have many unanswered questions, and rebel against rules from school or their parents.

Extremism – no thank you!

Active membership in extremist groups can, among other things, destroy families, change personalities and lead to criminal acts. Members are usually dependent upon the group they are involved with and cannot find a way out on their own. Victims of extremist (violent) acts also feel helpless. For this reason, there are several counseling centers in Germany and in the district of Tübingen. Those who are relatives of perpetrators or people who want to leave extremist groups, or who have themselves become victims of extremist violence, can find counseling services here:

The Tübingen Competence Center against Extremism in Baden-Württemberg (konex) offers exit counseling for right-wing, left-wing and foreign extremism (e.g. members of the NPD, VOLKSFRONT, PKK) as well as Islamism (e.g. supporters of IS). Detailed information and the respective phone numbers are available at: https://www.konex-bw.de.

The Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution has another special exit program for members of right-wing extremist groups. More information at:


The Anti-Discrimination Counseling Service (Adis) offers free counseling for people who are affected by discrimination or disadvantage on the basis of a characteristic or attribution such as skin color, origin, language, gender, sexual orientation, religion, age, disability, appearance or social status. More information at:

LEUCHTLINIE in Baden-Württemberg provides advice and information for victims of right-wing violence. This is a direct help and contact point for people affected by right-wing, racist and antisemitic violence: https://www.leuchtlinie.de.

RESPECT! is a hotline for incitement on the Internet. The hotline checks, for example, whether laws have been violated and then takes further steps. It also supports victims in filing charges in cases of insult, defamation and slander. Further information at:



Impressionen zum Leben in Zeiten der Corona-Pandemie. Foto: tünews INTERNATIONAL; Mostafa Elyasian 22.05.2020.

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