Danish Preventive Measures and De-radicalization Strategies: The Aarhus Model

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Preben Bertelsen


The Danish anti- and de-radicalization strategy involves three interwoven elements: (a) an early prevention and exit programme, (b) prosecution of radicalized persons who have committed violent crimes (in Denmark or in a foreign country), including measures such as confiscation of passport, and (c) prevention and countering of threats to national security, by the Danish Security and Intelligence Service (PET). The last two elements are in line with measures adopted by the international community. The element (a) is well known in some countries; however, the Danish programme and in particular the so-called Aarhus Model is quite unique. Thus, the Aarhus Model and its underpinning theory are presented below.


Panorama Insights into Asian and European Affairs

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Bertelsen, P., (2015) "Danish Preventive Measures and De-radicalization Strategies: The Aarhus Model," Panorama Insights into Asian and European Affairs


Countering Violent Extremism


The Project Gravity Team

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The article gives an overview of the Danish "Aaehus Model" of deradicalization in which governments entities engage in close coordination of activities and programming to both prevent radicalization and work with already radicalized individuals to exit and normalize. The article most helpful gives an overview of the theoretical grounding for the Aarhus Mode, specifically, the principles of "Life Psychology."

Life Psychology fundamentally presumes that everyone aspires to a "good-enough life," and in order to achieve this, everyone must be sufficiently capable and successful of coping with the tasks life offers. Thought about broadly, these tasks are the same for everyone, and can be understood as "(1) having and taking a personal position from where one can participate in constructing and maintaining one’s own and common life, (2) attuning one’s way of handling daily-life tasks as well as ultimate concerns to reality, pragmatically as well as morally, and (3) seeing oneself from one’s own perspective (that is, reflecting on one’s own life aspirations), from others’ perspective (that is, empathic understanding of the life aspirations of others’), and from the perspective of culture and society (cultural and societal discourses)." Success in accomplishing these fundamental life tasks depends on the interplay of an individual's "want," or desires, their "ability" or skills, the external possibilities and conditions they exist in, and the way in which they are "met by others," in their life, community, and society. Broader events can interfere with our striving for a "life embedded in a meaningful, safe, and secure world for our loved ones and ourselves."

Regarding radicalization, Life Psychology proposes that individuals radicalize when their "life embeddedness" is threatened. As a result of this threat, and either a limitation on their abilities, or the external conditions they exist in, or the way they are met by others, the individuals sees illegal radicalized activism as the only way to protect their life-embeddedness. Efforts at deradicalization and preventing radicalization should focus on looking at what triggering threats the person is experiencing, and what limitations in their abilities, what external conditions, and what ways others are meeting them, may be contributing to the individuals' understanding that illegal radical activism is their only path to life-embeddedness and a "good-enough life."