Polarisation and Hate

The rapid circulation of polarising and hateful ideas has led to a globalisation of hate, often with deadly consequences.

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, anti-Semitism, 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

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ISD’s Polarisation and Hate Speech analysis 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 and leads on ISD’s civil society engagement, communications, and partnerships, coordinating the public and private sectors with activists, frontline workers, and relevant civil society networks to counter disinformation, hate speech, extremist propaganda and recruitment. Zahed has worked recently on research and capacity building for NGOs in Kenya, Europe, and the Middle East. He recently co-authored The Impact of Counternarratives, a cross-platform study on counternarrative messaging impact and Between Two Extremes, a study of extremist messaging during the 2017 Kenya elections. Along with Google.org, he has helped oversee a £1m innovation fund for UK civil society organisations. 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 National, The Daily Star, Le Monde Diplomatique, and Newsweek, among others.
Cécile Guerin
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Cécile Guerin

Coordinator, Technology, Communications & Education

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Cécile Guerin
Cécile Guerin

Coordinator, Technology, Communications & Education

Cécile Guerin is a Coordinator at ISD, supporting the organisation’s European development and analysis work. She works on the Online Civil Courage Initiative (OCCI), a Facebook-funded project which aims to upscale civil society efforts against hate speech and extremism online. Cécile also contributes to ISD’s research and policy work, with a focus on social media analysis and network mapping related to hate speech, extremism and disinformation online. She has written for a range of publications, including The Guardian, Prospect and The Independent. Prior to joining ISD, Cécile spent two years working in publishing. Cécile holds an MSc in International History from the London School of Economics and an MA in English from the École Normale Supérieure in France.
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 the ISD, where he mainly works with the digital research team. Jakob has co-authored research reports on extreme right terrorism, Holocaust denial, the alternative online-ecosystem of the far-right, reciprocal radicalisation between the far-right and Islamist extremists, coordinated trolling campaigns, hate speech and disinformation campaigns targeting elections. 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. Jakob holds an MA in Terrorism, Security and Society from King’s College London.
Anisa Harrasy
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Anisa Harrasy

Manager, Technology, Communications & Education

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Anisa Harrasy
Anisa Harrasy

Manager, Technology, Communications & Education

Anisa Harrasy is a Manager at ISD, where she works across ISD’s youth empowerment projects, including the Youth Civil Activism Network (YouthCAN) and Young Cities. Through these projects, Anisa delivers capacity-building workshops, oversees youth-led campaigns and initiatives and facilitates dialogue between youth and policymakers. Anisa also helps lead ISD’s strategic development in Sub Saharan Africa and specializes in promoting peace in East Africa specifically. Anisa has conducted significant research on the influence and effect of non-state actors in global affairs and politics. 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.
Jennie King
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Jennie King

Senior Policy Manager, Technology, Communications & Education

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Jennie King
Jennie King

Senior Policy Manager, Technology, Communications & Education

Jennie King is a Senor Policy Manager, supporting programme design, policy outreach and strategy across the organisation. Before joining ISD, Jennie 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. In Egypt she coordinated a system reform programme with the Ministries of Education and Higher Education, including the most extensive policy dialogues in recent decades, and organised the country’s first ever Social Enterprise Week with 400+ stakeholders from the public, private and third sectors. In Europe she spearheaded the People-to-People Central Europe programme, an initiative to foster cohesion in the most deprived and marginalised regions of Hungary, Slovakia and Czech Republic, designing activities to promote inclusive economic growth and youth-based social action. Jennie read Arabic and Spanish at Pembroke College, Cambridge, receiving a Foundation Scholarship and the Marie Shamma’a Frost Prize for Oriental Studies. She was awarded the Idle Scholarship on graduation, joining Occidental College’s Oxy-at-the-UN Programme in New York. At UNHQ she completed courses in Conflict Resolution and Human Development and led a task force for the Assistant Secretary-General for Climate Change. She also served as an Attaché for the Guatemalan Diplomatic Mission, covering modalities for the Post-2015 Development Agenda, COP 20, and resolutions passing through the Security Council on ISIL.
Charlotte Moeyens
Charlotte Moeyens

Manager, Technology, Communications & Education

Josh Phillips
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Josh Phillips

Manager, Technology, Communications & Education

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Josh Phillips
Josh Phillips

Manager, Technology, Communications & Education

Josh is a Manager working on the ISD’s Education Programme, where he supports the development, delivery and evaluation of key digital citizenship projects, Be Internet Citizens and Young Digital Leaders. Through these projects, he has written unique, accredited curricula, which have been used to teach thousands of students across the UK and Europe, as well as to train hundreds of teachers. Josh has also supported the Education team’s policy engagement, including having briefed the UK Home Secretary on ISD’s digital citizenship programming. He has co-authored and published impact reports, as well as a toolkit for NGOs to design their own digital citizenship projects. Previously, he developed his research and project management skills on Chatham House’s US and Americas Programme. A former teacher holding a PGCE, Josh also has an MSc in International Politics from SOAS University of London, and a BA in English Literature from Leeds University.
Jasmeet Sahotay
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Jasmeet Sahotay

Coordinator, Technology, Communications & Education

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Jasmeet Sahotay
Jasmeet Sahotay

Coordinator, Technology, Communications & Education

Jasmeet Sahotay is a Coordinator working jointly on YouthCAN and Young Cities projects, including supporting the delivery of the Youth Innovation Labs, managing the YouthCAN communication strategy, and developing new project activities and strategies. Jasmeet was previously a programme coordinator at PATRIR, an internationally recognised peacebuilding think tank which is based in Cluj-Napoca, Romania. There he developed and managed a series of projects focussed on countering violent extremism, hate speech and polarisation. He also has extensive experience in training and implementing campaigns centred around youth empowerment. 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.