Women in Extremism: Causes, Concerns and Consequences

24th September 2018

IOHR and the University of Rostock present:

Women in Extremism: Causes, Concerns and Consequences

When: 24 September 2018
Where: University of Rostock, Germany.
What: The International Observatory of Human Rights (IOHR) is working in partnership with Dr. Nina Käsehage of the University of Rostock’s Department of Religious Studies and Intercultural Theology to bring an event that puts the focus on women who have joined terrorist groups such as ISIS.

Nina has carried out extensive research on the role of women in the Muslim-Salafi movements. She has been working on a project involving female ISIS returnees at the Department of Religious Studies since March 2017. She interviewed 175 Muslim-Salafi preachers and followers in eight European countries. Out of 38 young people that she interviewed, Nina successfully managed to convince 35 of them not to travel and join terrorist groups on the battleground in Syria.

The panel of experts and reformed extremists explore the process of radicalisation and the route back to normality and moderation.

Hanif Qadir, a reformed Al Qaeda member will speak about the process of de-radicalisation and his experience in working in the UK to help integrate women who have defected from extremist ranks.

How were they radicalised and why did they abandon extremism? How is the government dealing with returnees?

The seminar is the second in IOHR’s series to counter-extremism through the #NotBornARadical campaign launched in February at Kings College in London with the participation of experts on Islamic extremism from nine different nations, the UN and the EU.


IOHR aims to shape decisive policy and practitioner engagement on the pivotal topic of women in Islamist and far right extremism.

Most recently the wave of far-right extremism is one that is creating shockwaves across Europe. Germany now lies in the crosshairs of some of the troubles, with the fresh spate of violence in Chemnitz causing grave concern worldwide.

Our host city itself has a regrettable history of extremist violence; the city of Rostock and its people sadly know the terrible impact of violent extremism all too well. Its past demonstrated that the threat of extremism is nothing new, whether it be right-wing, or ISIS inspired.

In 2017 there were a total of 205 foiled, failed and completed terrorist attacks in 9 EU states. The role of women in extremist groups and terrorism is evolving quickly. Europol figures show that one in four (26%) of arrestees on terror charges in Europe in 2016 were women. A figure that leads us to crucial questions surrounding the role of women in extremism and hence the focus of this seminar.


We are delighted to confirm a panel of leading experts in the fields of prevention and rehabilitation practice, academia and policy.

Dr. Nina Käsehage, Department of Religious Studies and Intercultural Theology, University of Rostock, Germany.
PhD entitled: “The current Salafi Scene in Germany – Preachers and Adherents” was published in March 2018 and is the first study of its kind to have been conducted in Germany.

Simon Cornwall, Fellow GIRDS (German Institute on Radicalization and De-radicalization Studies)
Simon Cornwall is a leading expert on extremism and disengagement work within the Criminal Justice System. He has nearly 40 years of Counter Terrorism experience. He is currently working as an International consultant for the United Nations ODC/Terrorism Prevention Branch to implement a 3-year project on supporting Central Asian States to strengthen national and regional frameworks for preventing and countering violent extremism.

Dr Katherine Brown, Head of the Department of Theology and Religion, University of Birmingham, UK.
Katherine is the UK’s leading female academic looking at women in extremism. Throughout her career she has worked for the UN on gender-mainstreaming in countering violent extremism, has worked with the EU on providing talks on violent extremism and radical beliefs, and has provided academic oversight for think tanks, including RUSI and the Institute for Strategic Dialogue.

Hanif Qadir, Reformed Al Qaeda member and Chief Executive of the Active Change Foundation in the UK.
Hanif is a former extremist, who once joined Al-Qaeda in Afghanistan. Deterred by the crimes he saw being committed against civilians, he came back to the UK to launch the Active Change Foundation, a London based organisation dedicated to help safeguard young people in danger of becoming radicalised.

Today, Hanif is recognised as arguably the best violent extremist and de-radicalisation expert in Europe. He is actively involved in advising and assisting senior policy makers in reforming Preventing Violent Extremism (PVE) and Counter Violent Extremism (CVE) initiatives while working closely with a wide range of governmental institutions, most of the UK’s Police Authorities, as well as research academics across the globe.

Tania Joya, Ex-wife of the most senior American member of ISIS.
For over a decade, British-born Tania was married to the most senior American member of the Islamic State; John Georgelas (later known as Yahya al-Bahrumi and Abu Yahya). Their relationship and John’s commitment to the radical beliefs of Al-Qaeda and Islamic State took Tania and her children through conflict zones in Egypt, Turkey, and Syria. She escaped with her American-born children from Syria via a human trafficker in September 2013. She now lives in Texas with their 4 children and works to promote counter-extremism awareness worldwide. Tanya will be giving an exclusive interview to IOHR about the processes and changes through which she went in order to become deradicalised in order to prevent other young women from following the path of extremism.

Dr. Steffi Brüning, Protestant Church Academy in Rostock/Democracy Centre for the Prevention of Extremism.
Dr. Steffi Brüning studied political science and history in Greifswald and Rostock. In 2017, she received the “Johannes Stelling Award” for her commitment against right-wing extremism. In 2018, she gained her PhD with a thesis on women’s history in the GDR. She will be joining the panel to offer her expertise on the development of right-wing extremism.

About IOHR

The International Observatory of Human Rights is a non-profit NGO based in London. Our team of journalists, researchers, human rights practitioners and multi-media professionals aim to prevent and end human rights violations worldwide.

Our primary field research, in depth analysis and unique access represents the foundation for our goal to advocate, assimilate and secure human rights for all.

In this age, the fight against terrorism has been used as an excuse to sideline human rights. We aim to raise awareness by engaging people through IOHR web TV, digital media and forums. Reshaping the dialogue is our way to translate our message on the plight of refugees, unjustly incarcerated prisoners, victims of oppression and radicalism to policy makers, practitioners, academics, journalists, experts, and a wider public. Valerie Peay, the Director of IOHR brought her international experience in transformation and TV from the corporate world into the field of human rights, using her business knowledge to drive positive outcomes.

For more information and to arrange interviews, please contact:
Mr Ash Naji, Head of Marketing and Communications, International Observatory of Human Rights. Tel: +44 (0) 7826 062 541; Email: [email protected]

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