Key Facts

Principal Investigators: 

  • Prof. Dr. Gerrit Hirschfeld, Bielefeld University of Applied Sciences, Faculty of Health
  • Prof. Dr. Sabrina Hegner, Bremen City University of Applied Sciences, School of International Business

Research assistant

  • Elif Durmaz
  • Leoni Schlling

Duration: 10/2020 – 09/2023

Practice Partners

Optimized crisis communication after attacks with Islamist background in Germany (OKAI)

The OKAI project uses crisis communication research approaches to investigate the reactions of Muslim associations to Islamist attacks in Germany. The focus is on the question of how these organizations can improve their response to terrorism. The aim is to mitigate negative effects on the perception of the associations.

Islamist attacks do not only affect the immediate victims and their families. In the wake of an attack, increased fear and prejudice against Muslims can lead to increased discrimination against these communities as well. This can lead, among other things, to the alienation of Muslims from mainstream society. The media's portrayal of the events and reactions to them play a key role in this regard.

Research on crisis communication addresses, among other things, the question of how reactions to negative events can be optimized. The most widely used theory of crisis communication is the Situational Crisis Communication Theory (SCCT), which shows that organizations can influence whether an event has a negative impact on their reputation by how they deal with it - especially if the organizations themselves are not responsible for the crisis.

The OKAI project assumes that a terrorist attack can also be considered a crisis in this respect. So far, however, little use has been made of crisis communication approaches to study and optimize reactions after terrorist attacks. OKAI aims to close this gap. With its findings, the project aims to develop recommendations for action for Muslim organizations and associations to support them in their communication after attacks. The recommendations will be made available via academic publications as well as scientific expertise.

Film "Project OKAI" | Duration 2"12' | Production Ute Seitz // Philipp Offermann | PRIF 2023


How can Muslim organisations respond to Islamist terrorist attacks? That is the question addressed by the research project "Optimised crisis communication after attacks with Islamist background in Germany" (OKAI). In an interview with RADIS, Prof. Sabrina Hegner describes the research project's approach and provides practical tips for crisis communication for Muslim organisations. Read more.