Last week, the BBC invited me to discuss the causes of radicalisation on its politics show, This Week, with Andrew Neil, Alan Johnson and Michael Portillo – three white men who have never faced Islamophobia in their lives. I can only apologise to all the young, disaffected British Muslims I was representing.
Though I take full responsibility for my poor performance, the discussion itself was unproductive and represents everything that is wrong with the British discourse on radicalisation: the tendency is to generalise, filter our nuance and prioritise academic opinion over Muslims’ feelings – the sentiment on the street.
I was hoping to explain that there is no one, as Alan Johnson put it, “fundamental” cause of radicalisation. The Isis narrative has been planted on fertile soil: it is allowed to flourish because of Islamophobia, socio-economic deprivation, intrusive British foreign policy and, of course, the politicisation of Islam by a power-hungry terrorist organisation.