Topic 3 Religion-related terrorism

Religious extremism is not a unified and ubiquitous phenomenon; rather, religious extremists differ on a number of dimensions in how they express their religion, and consequently, how they aim to achieve important group goals’.

Quoted in: Wibisono, Winnifred, Jetten (2019)

The current scale of religious terrorism, unprecedented in militancy and activism, is indicative of this perception that their respective faiths and communities stand at a critical historical juncture’

Quoted in: Ranstorp (1996)

Attacks against places of worship

  • Places of worship have often been targets for religiously motivated attacks. In 2020 an article in The Conversation has noted that there is ‘a rise in hostility directed at others on the basis of their religion’.
  • Places of worship epitomize a symbolism for diverse religious and cultural communities and consequently are targeted by extremists who wish to make a specific point regarding the religious and cultural beliefs of those under attack.
  • Interfaith dialogue and solidarity of religious communities after the attacks are seen as ways to prevent and eliminate the effects of such violence

 (Otto, 2020).

Image available at:

Table 1: Examples of recent attacks on places of worship in Europe

Source: European Commission Newsroom,

Chart 1: Terrorism-related arrests in the EU and the UK (2010-2020)

Source: Europol’s annual EU terrorism situation and trend reports (from 2011 to 2021) *Figures for 2020 don’t include the UK. The infographic is available at the site of European Council (2022) at:

Chart 1 shows terrorism-related arrests in the EU and UK between 2010 and 2020, by year and by affiliation. Chart 1 explained in numbers: EU countries and the UK reported the following numbers of terrorism-related arrests between 2010 and 2020:

  • 2010: 249 arrests
  • 2011: 484 arrests
  • 2012: 537 arrests
  • 2013: 535 arrests
  • 2014: 774 arrests
  • 2015: 1077 arrests
  • 2016: 1002 arrests
  • 2017: 1219 arrests
  • 2018: 1056 arrests
  • 2019: 1004 arrests
  • 2020: 634 arrests

Source: European Council (2022).