Athena Institute

Major Domestic Extremism Incidents - Europe 1990-2010

For Journalists

Study finds domestic extremism among
gravest threats in Europe

Budapest | 23 Feb 2012

Roma and non-Roma Hungarians are holding commemorations today in hundreds of towns and villages across Hungary as well as in some capitols around the world remembering the 5-year-old child victim of a racist serial-killer group murdering 6 people.

At the same time, a Europe-wide study found that almost 2000 European citizens died, were taken hostage or suffered serious injuries as a direct result of major attacks carried out by domestic extremist groups between 1990 and 2010. According to the report - published by the Budapest-based Athena Institute, a research organization focusing on domestic extremism -, most citizens became a victim of domestic extremism in the late 1990s, then, after a sharp drop subsequent to the millennium the number of victims started growing again since 2005.

“These numbers indicate a very serious threat potential, actually one of the gravest, yet underestimated challenges in terms of European security” says Kristof Domina, the director of the Institute. “After the Oslo twin attacks and the serial-killings in Germany, the issue cannot be perceived as a chain of tragic, isolated incidents. The threat is becoming systemic”, he adds.

In accordance, examining regional differences in Europe the study points out that the overall amount of victims is the highest in Western Europe. In South Eastern Europe, almost 700 people became a victim and one third of them died. Concerning individual countries, the highest number of citizens became victim of major incidents in Spain, France, Greece, Albania, Germany, Serbia and Great Britain - in this order.

Differences among victim types make Greece the most troubled European country with the third highest victim number and the second highest victim/fatality ratio: more than half of the victims of major incidents died in that country until 2010 - even before its present crisis got full-fledged.

Throughout Europe, organized extremist groups involved in major incidents selected governmental sector as the target of their attack most frequently. 42% of all attacks were carried out against this target type. The business sector and private citizens/property are the other two, frequently chosen target (12% of all cases, respectively) according to the Institute.