Polarisation and Hate

Hate of all kinds has reached mainstream discussion. ISD is taking action to combat the narratives that pit groups against one another.

Over the past decade, ISD has anticipated and monitored the rise of polarisation by studying the increasing influence of extremist groups peddling “us vs. them” narratives. We have charted the roles that different sectors of society – government, civil society, and the private sector – can play while designing initiatives to leverage and synergise their collective input in combating hate and polarisation.

A broad spectrum of state and non-state actors, including extremist far-right and Islamist groups, have exploited technology and election cycles to exacerbate the recent polarisation afflicting our societies. These forces have divided communities at the local level and political movements at the national level.

The rapid circulation of polarising and hateful ideas on social media has led to a globalisation of hate, exacerbating tensions in developing countries such as Myanmar, Sri Lanka and Kenya, often with deadly consequences. Responses to polarisation and hate are often under-resourced, uncoordinated, and too dilatory to limit the damage these malicious actors cause.

ISD delivers a range of programmes to tackle polarisation. Our partnership with Google to deliver a £1m Innovation Fund across the UK has stimulated creative responses from lesser known organisations that have delivered impact in areas such as technology, sports, and the arts.

Our campaign training, delivered through our initiatives such as YouthCAN, have measurably shifted attitudes away from polarisation on issues such as racism, Islamophobia, antisemitism and migration.

Finally, we continue to channel our analysis and data into digital policy efforts to inform and advise government and policymakers around the world.

Latest Publications on Polarisation and Hate

Click here for more related ISD Publications

ISD’s Polarisation and Hate Team

Zahed Amanullah
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Zahed Amanullah

Resident Senior Fellow, Networks & Outreach

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Zahed Amanullah
Zahed Amanullah

Resident Senior Fellow, Networks & Outreach

Zahed Amanullah is a Resident Senior Fellow at ISD, leading on ISD’s civil society engagement, communications, and partnerships, coordinating the public and private sectors with activists, frontline workers, and relevant civil society networks. He has worked closely with Google.org to support British and European civil society organisations through the Innovation Fund, the Shared Endeavour Fund, and the Google Impact Challenge on Safety. He has given testimony to the UK and European parliaments and has been featured at the BBC, NPR, Channel 4, Sky News, the Guardian, CNN International, The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, Le Monde Diplomatique, and Newsweek, among others. He has co-authored the ISD reports The Impact of Counternarratives, Between Two Extremes: Responding to Islamist and tribalist messaging online in Kenya during the 2017 elections, and The Innovation Fund to Counter Hate and Extremism in the UK. He holds a BS from the University of California, Berkeley and a Diploma in Management from the University of Bath.
Jennie King
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Jennie King

Senior Policy Manager

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Jennie King
Jennie King

Senior Policy Manager

Jennie King is a Senior Policy Manager at ISD. She supports programme design, policy outreach and strategy across the organisation. Jennie previously served as MENA Regional Director Arts, Assistant Country Director Egypt and Co-Director Hungary for the British Council, the UK’s international body for cultural relations. She also served as an Attaché for the Guatemalan Diplomatic Mission. She is the co-author of the ISD report Hoodwinked: Coordinated Inauthentic Behaviour on Facebook. Jennie read Arabic and Spanish at Pembroke College, Cambridge, receiving a Foundation Scholarship and the Marie Shamma’a Frost Prize for Oriental Studies.
Anisa Harrasy
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Anisa Harrasy

Manager, Young Cities and Sub Saharan Africa

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Anisa Harrasy
Anisa Harrasy

Manager, Young Cities and Sub Saharan Africa

Anisa Harrasy is a Young Cities and Sub Saharan Africa Manager at ISD, where she works across the Strong Cities Network and Young Cities Sub Saharan Africa programming. This work entails designing and delivering project activities with both youth and local government stakeholders. The activities range from capacity building workshops, grant management and supporting locally-led PVE initiatives. Anisa also helps lead ISD’s strategic development and networking in Sub Saharan Africa and specialises in promoting peace in East Africa. She is the co-author of the ISD reports Between Two Extremes: Responding to Islamist and tribalist messaging online in Kenya during the 2017 elections and No Platform for Old Men, Barriers to Online Youth Civic Engagement and P-CVE in Europe. Anisa holds an MA in International Security from the University of Sussex and a BA in International relations with Arabic. She is bilingual Swahili and English, with basic Arabic proficiency.
Cécile Simmons
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Cécile Simmons

Research Manager

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Cécile Simmons
Cécile Simmons

Research Manager

Cécile Simmons is a Research Manager at ISD, working within the digital research and policy team. She has co-authored reports on far-right terrorism and extremism, hate speech, gender-based violence and disinformation campaigns targeting elections. She works with tech companies, government departments and inter-governmental organisations. Cécile features regularly in international media, including BBC News, The Guardian, Politico, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Le Monde, and Wired. She is the co-author of ISD reports La pandémie de COVID-19: terreau fertile de la haine en ligne, Seconde vague et désinformation: Aperçu des tendances sur les réseaux sociaux, The Interplay Between Australia’s Political Fringes on the Right and Left: Online Messaging on Facebook, Public Figures, Public Rage: Candidate abuse on social media, An Online Environmental Scan of Right-wing Extremism in Canada, Mapping hate in France: A panoramic view of online discourse and Fostering Civic Responses to Online Harms: Learnings from the Online Civil Courage Initiative and the Online Civic Fund.
Charlotte Moeyens
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Charlotte Moeyens

Networks and Civic Action Manager

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Charlotte Moeyens
Charlotte Moeyens

Networks and Civic Action Manager

Charlotte Moeyens is a Networks and Civic Action Manager at ISD, sitting in the central Resources and Methods team to support with the collation and distribution of counter-extremism best practice, leading much of ISD’s practitioner and civil society capacity-building work, overseeing the development and international delivery of training modules, materials and resources. She has supported the delivery of the Google.org Impact Challenge on Safety in Europe, Africa Online Safety Fund and Mayor of London’s Shared Endeavour Fund. Most recently, she is working with the McCain Institute to develop and build the capacity of a US Prevention and Intervention Practitioners Network. Charlotte also assists with ISD’s and the Strong Cities Network’s research efforts to better understand the scale and scope of extremist content online. She is co-author of the ISD reports YouthCAN: The Many States of Activism and Women, Girls and Islamist Extremism.
Jakob Guhl
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Jakob Guhl

Research Manager

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Jakob Guhl
Jakob Guhl

Research Manager

Jakob Guhl is a Manager at ISD, where he works within the Digital Research Unit and with ISD Germany. His research focuses on the far-right, Islamist extremism, hate speech, disinformation and conspiracy theories. He is a frequent commentator on German radio and broadcast, including Deutschlandfunk, Tagesthemen, NDR and Radio Eins. Jakob has been invited to present his research about online hate to the German Ministry of the Justice and provided evidence to the German Minister of the Interior and the German Family Minister on how to strengthen prevention against right-wing extremism and antisemitism. His research has been featured in Die Zeit, The Guardian, DW, The Telegraph, CNN, Euronews, Coda Story, Vice, Politico, New Republic and Die Welt, among others. Additionally, he has published articles in the “Journal for Deradicalisation”, “Demokratie gegen Menschenfeindlichkeit”, Taz, Der Standard, GNET and co-authored an essay for an edited volume of the Munich Residence Theatre about the origins of contemporary political anger. He is the co-author of ISD reports Crisis and Loss of Control: German-Language Digital Extremism in the Context of the COVID-19 Pandemic, Hosting the ‘Holohoax’: A Snapshot of Holocaust Denial Across Social Media, A Safe Space to Hate: White Supremacist Mobilisation on Telegram and The Online Ecosystem of the German Far-Right. Jakob holds an MA in Terrorism, Security and Society from King’s College London.
Jasmeet Sahotay
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Jasmeet Sahotay

Project Coordinator

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Jasmeet Sahotay
Jasmeet Sahotay

Project Coordinator

Jasmeet is a Project Coordinator at ISD, working on the YouthCAN and Young Cities projects. Jasmeet supports the delivery of the Youth Innovation Labs, manages the Communications for youth-related programming, and supports the development of new project activities and strategies. He is the lead author of the ISD report Voices of Pakistani Youth: Lessons for Civil Society in the Development of Effective Counter-Narrative Campaigns. He holds a Masters in International Law, Security and Terrorism from the University of Nottingham, and a Bachelor’s degree in Philosophy & Politics from the University of Leeds.