Profiles of British Muslims going to fight for Jihad

More profiles of young British Jihadists have been released. Samiun Rahman, a young man arrested in Dhaka as an ISIS

Sara Khan, the co-founder of Inspire, is working to keep young Muslims, especially young women, away from radicalization.
Sara Khan, the co-founder of Inspire, is working to keep young Muslims, especially young women, away from radicalization.

volunteer to fight in Syria was a serious rock singer and guitarist with a recording contract with a British music company. According to police, Rahman had turned to militant Islam just over two years ago after he was arrested by police in London for being drunk.

Women and girls appear to make up about 10% of those leaving Europe, North America and Australia to link up with jihadi groups, including ISIS. France has the highest number of female jihadi recruits, with 63 in the region – about 25% of the total – and at least another 60 believed to be considering the move. In most cases, women and girls appear to have left home to marry jihadis, drawn to the idea of supporting their “brother fighters” and having “jihadist children to continue the spread of Islam”, said Louis Caprioli, former head of the French security agency Direction de la Surveillance du Territoire. “If their husband dies, they will be given adulation as the wife of a martyr.”
Fifteen-year-old Yusra Hussein is the latest British girl thought to have joined Islamic State fighters. The “intelligent, beautiful” student – who dreamt of being a dentist – is now believed to be in Turkey preparing to cross into Syria and join up with jihadists from the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (Isil). Twins Zahra and Salma Halane, 16, from Manchester, are believed to have travelled to Syria in July. Aqsa Mahmood, 20, was a student in Glasgow who dreamed of becoming a doctor. Now she’s understood to be part of an all-female militant group in Syria, along with 60 other young women.

British Muslim women have spoken about their reactions to the number of women travelling to Syria. They simply cannot comprehend why they would give up their life full of opportunities. A big concern for these young women is that these “jihadi brides” will mar their religion’s reputation. Fatima Ali, an 18-year-old schoolgirl, states, “It’s impacting us as well. Obviously we’re young British Muslims so people will think we might do it too. People might discriminate against us more now.”

Inspire, a counter-extremism and human rights organisation which seeks to address issues facing British Muslim women, organised a protest in London against the Islamic State’s barbarism. The movement has its own hashtag -#MakingAStand. British Muslims have spoken out against the Islamic State before, with social media campaigns such as #NotInMyName, which went viral on Twitter. But the difference here is that #MakingAStand focuses solely on women. Sara Khan – co-founder of Inspire – says that the majority of the young women she meets are “utterly flabbergasted” when they hear about British Muslims jumping on a plane to Syria and Iraq, and “can’t get their head around the idea that young women who have all the freedoms and rights in this country have sacrificed all of that to go and marry a stranger”.

Orthodox Salafi Imams, British Muslim Activists, Organisations and the youth speak out against the Islamic State

#notinmyname Campaign, YouTube
#notinmyname Campaign, YouTube

British Muslim scholars, activists and the community speak out against ISIS. Scholars from the Orthodox Salafi school of Islamic thought have made a direct video appeal to release Alan Henning, warning the killing would directly oppose Islamic laws.

Furthermore, activists led by Britain’s Active Change charity are spreading peace online, using the same social media platforms that the terrorists are using to propagate hate. They have created and popularised a twitter hashtag “#notinmyname”. The young people are openly lambasting the Islamic State, for “hiding behind a false Islam.” The Muslim Council of Britain also roundly condemned the Islamic State’s actions and called for Henning’s release.

The Ahmadiyya Muslim community have also spoken out against IS. Their president stated that the “Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, under the guidance of our Caliph, His Holiness Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad, categorically reject extremists wherever they may be, whatever their cause.”

However, some Muslims – as noted by the Guardian article – are questioning whether or not Muslims need to apologise and speak out against IS. The article argues that it makes no sense for Muslims to apologise for crimes they played no part in. Muslims are as disgusted by them as any civilised person is.

Caliphate? What an Islamic state means to British Muslims

August 14, 2014

When the extremist group Isis (now known as Islamic State or IS) declared a caliphate taking in parts of Syria and Iraq it reignited a debate over the role of an Islamic state. For many a caliphate is a political leadership, others a spiritual figurehead, and for some a combination of the two.

“What we’re seeing being carried out against helpless civilians like the Yazidis and other groups isn’t what an Islamic state is about,” says Yasmin Khatun, a journalist from London.

  • The institution of a caliphate (khilafah in Arabic) is how Muslims were led for centuries after the death of the Prophet Muhammad.
  • The last widely recognised one was the Ottoman Empire which was abolished in Istanbul in 1924.
  • Caliph or khalifa – which means “successor” – is deemed by certain strands of Islam to be a leader destined to unite the Muslim “ummah” or community.
  • The position of caliph is often likened to that of a pope, a king, or head of state.
  • Many of those who want a caliphate today compare it to having an Islamic superpower – “an America for Muslims”.
  • It would also be a place to live that would be governed by Sharia law, the Islamic legal system.

Yasmin Khatun, 26, a journalist from London is a Sunni Muslim, Mina Topia, 29, a business development manager from Birmingham, is a Sunni Muslim, Joy Ahmed, 27, works in banking, lives in south London and is a Sunni Muslim, Zahra Abdeali, 31, is a recent graduate and a Shia Muslim, Fida Ul Haque, 23, is studying accounting and is an Ahmadi Muslim, Saif Ul Islam, 31, is self-employed and was born Hindu but converted to Sunni Islam offer their various opinions on what the Caliphate means to them.

British Muslims’ right to fight in Syria backed by ex-adviser on radicalisation

June 28, 2014

A former senior government adviser on tackling radicalisation and extremism has defended the right of British Muslims to travel to Syria and fight. Farooq Siddiqui, a former regional manager for the government’s controversial Prevent strategy, said it was acceptable for Britons to “walk the walk” and travel to Syria to fight the forces of President Bashar al-Assad.

Siddiqui, defended the right of an individual to be called a martyr if he took up arms against Assad, and questioned whether those who fought against the Syrian president should face arrest upon return to the UK. However, intelligence officials consider jihadists battling Assad’s government forces in Syria to be a potential threat. They estimate that up to 300 fighters have already returned to the UK from Syria. Scotland Yard has warned that Britain will live with the terror legacy of the Syrian conflict for years to come.

The foreign secretary, William Hague, believes as many as 400 British citizens may be fighting in Syria, recently confirming that security measures are in place such as the option of withdrawing leave to remain, cancelling passports and arresting UK jihadists who have been fighting in Syria or for terrorist group Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (Isis), which has seized control of swaths of northern Iraq.

Siddiqui, who ran Prevent in the south-west until 2012, pointed out that Britons were free to join the Israeli Defence Force and return to the UK without censure, while those taking up arms against what they viewed as a tyrannical dictator, Assad, faced arrest. He says he knew “nothing about” Isis at the time of the online conversation in February. He does not support the group, writing on Facebook, referencing the situation in Syria, he said: “If a man describes himself as wanting to help the oppressed and dies, in that case he is a martyr.”

Siddiqui told the Observer that he would be happy to endorse security measures on combatants if they applied to others returning from fighting abroad, not just Muslims. “As for people fighting in Syria, if they go with the intention to defend the civilian population from a dictator – a population we have abandoned – I accept their conviction until proven otherwise.”

 

TAGS: Public opinion and Islam in the media, and Issues in Politics and Immigration and Integration

Dispelling myths about British Muslims

June 21, 2014

Many people have come to regard Muslims as a backward group of religious extremists estranged from wider society and incapable of coming to terms with what it means to be British. This impression has been heightened by misleading press reporting and inflammatory statements from senior politicians. The so-called “Trojan horse” controversy concerning an alleged Muslim takeover of Birmingham schools – based on what looks like a fabricated document – has brought fresh ugliness to an already putrid public debate.

There are elements of truth in the popular narrative about British Islam, but much of it is based on ignorance. A 2011 Demos survey showed that Muslims are more patriotic than other Britons (83 per cent said they were proud to be British as opposed to 79 per cent of the general population), and are more integrated than is often thought to be the case. So the publication of these two books could not be timelier. Medina in Birmingham, Najaf in Brent: Inside British Islam by Innes Bowen and The Muslims Are Coming! Islamophobia, Extremism and the Domestic War on Terror by Arun Kundnani.

Innes Bowen, a BBC radio journalist, has written an admirable and clear- headed study which has much to teach anyone with an interest in British Islam. She explains the beliefs, historical background and political engagement of the main Muslim sects and organisations: Deobandis, Barelwis, Tablighi Jamaat, Muslim Brotherhood, Salafis, Shia and Ismailis.

Bowman dispels a long list of myths about the role of Saudi teaching in mosques, the influence of Iran among British Shia (very little), the connection between the doctrines of Tablighi Jamaat and terrorism (none), and the alleged shortage of British-born imams (there are plenty). Bowen’s book is gentle and optimistic. She suggests that over time there is no fundamental contradiction between Islam and the modern Western state.

Arun Kundnani has written a very different kind of work. It is angrier and more polemical. Yet it too is grounded in research from both sides of the Atlantic. The case studies from the United States are shocking. He shows how Muslims there can be ensnared by the FBI into so-called plots which have been devised by the US government, arguing convincingly that Islam has taken over the role of public enemy from communism. It dispels myths, pointing out that “there is no Islamic doctrine of ‘kill the unbelievers’ as anti-Islam propagandists often maintain. Islam, like other religions, provides a broad moral framework for thinking about questions of violence.” Again and again this book challenges your assumptions. It is worth reading for its examination of the word “extremism” alone. Martin Luther King, Kundnani points out, was denounced in this way. Kundnani is fiercer and more pessimistic.

Isis rebels declare new Islamic state as Iraq tightens security around Baghdad

June 30, 2014

Isis militants declare an Islamic state, or ‘caliphate’ in an area straddling the border between Iraq and Syria. Iraqi government forces are increasing security around Baghdad, and launching attacks to try to claw back some of the territory gained by the rebels. Meanwhile families fleeing the violence take refuge in makeshift camps

At least 1,500 British nationals are likely to have been recruited by extremists to fight in Iraq and Syria, a Birmingham MP has warned. Labour’s Khalid Mahmood said that with the increased radicalisation of young British Muslims in the past two years, the number who “will come back” to launch attacks in the UK was “certainly more than we are saying at the moment”.

“Originally you had the British Syrians settled here who wanted to go back and play a part, then you had the Kurdish community, then almost two years ago you had the young British Muslim community going across – so if you add all that up you’ve got serious figures that we need to look at. Those will come back – certainly more than we are saying at the moment – and we do need to look at that.” Mr Mahmood’s warning came as senior British security experts warned that the UK could be suffering from the repercussions of the Syrian and Iraqi conflicts for “many years” to come.

Cressida Dick, the Metropolitan Police assistant commissioner and head of specialist operations, said Britain would feel the long-term consequences of the conflict, and young British Muslims who have travelled to fight in the war-torn country might commit violence when they returned.

Liam Fox, the former Defence Secretary, described the problem of fighters returning from the region as a “real worry”, and told the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show that the government needed to reassess the funding and powers given to the security services with this threat in mind.

Sheikh Zane Abdo, imam of the South Wales Islamic Centre said a “platform” should not have been given to the recruitment video for the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isis) adding: “I guarantee that many young people who are very susceptible to this type of message will have watched that video and maybe have been encouraged to now go and follow in the footsteps of Nasser and his brother, which is a real problem, the fact that a platform has been given to this video that really shouldn’t have been given.”

Haras Rafiq, from the anti-extremist think tank the Quilliam Foundation, told Good Morning Britain that the strongest influence on young men who end up going out to the region was the internet.

 

Sources:

The Guardian

http://www.theguardian.com/world/video/2014/jun/30/isis-declare-islamic-state-iraq-tightens-security-baghdad-video

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/jun/30/isis-caliphate-revival

The Independent

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/iraq-crisis-youtube-pressed-to-remove-video-recruiting-british-jihadis-for-isis-9557758.html

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/iraq-crisis-isis-has-recruited-at-least-1500-britons-to-fight-abroad-warns-birmingham-mp-9556790.html

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/iraq-crisis-tracking-isis-jihadists-top-priority-for-security-service-9553599.html

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/iraq-crisis-isis-video-calls-on-british-muslims-to-join-in-jihad-as-cure-for-depression-9552937.html

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/iraq-crisis-isis-militants-release-video-to-recruit-foreign-fighters-9552142.html

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/iraq-crisis-up-to-450-british-fighters-have-joined-isis-militants-and-are-planning-uk-attack-spies-say-9547776.html

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/iraq-crisis-tony-blair-admits-removal-of-saddam-hussein-is-partly-to-blame-for-uprising-9557640.html

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/robert-fisk-the-old-partition-of-the-middle-east-is-dead-i-dread-to-think-what-will-follow-9536467.html

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/what-is-the-difference-between-sunni-and-shia-muslims-and-why-do-they-disagree-9536650.html

http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/iraq-crisis-sunni-caliphate-has-been-bankrolled-by-saudi-arabia-9533396.html

British Muslims angry with Britain’s decision to “engage” with Narendra Modi’s government

Narendra Modi, the chief minister of Gujarat state has been boycotted by Western governments for 10 years over his involvement in the Gujarat massacre in 2002. According to the reports published by Human Rights Watch, Citizens for Justice and Peace and many other NGOs during the massacre more than 2,000 Muslims were killed, 150,000 displaced and over 800 women and girls were raped. Further, according to these reports Narendra Modi provoked the massacre and was complaisant with the killing of the Muslims.

 

The UK’s high commissioner in India has met Narendra Modi recently and ended the boycott. This angered the British Muslims who were ‘shocked’ and ‘dismayed’ with the decision of the Foreign Office. One of these groups was the Council of Indian Muslims (U.K.) who wrote an open letter to urge Foreign Secretary William Hague to review Britain’s decision to “engage” with Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi’s government. The letter said:

 

“We are particularly disappointed because no consultation was done with British Indian Muslims in general and in particular the families whose members were butchered by Modi’s foot soldiers… We really find ourselves at a loss and have no words to express our utter disappointment, frustration and therefore very humbly request you to review your decision.”

British citizens are joining a so-called Jihad in Syria

There have been reports about the involvement of British citizens in the conflict in Syria. Due to the captivity of British photojournalist Mr Cantlie and Dutch photojournalist Mr Oerlemans, the British public has become concerned about young ‘jihadist’ Britons fighting in Syria. In this regard, MP Khalid Mahmood has warned the government about young British Muslims being radicalized by the conflict in Syria.

Mr Cantlie had previously informed the media that some of his captors were of British origin. He further revealed that while they were captives they also met a British doctor who was fighting against the Syrian government. The British doctor was working in an NHS hospital in London but when the uprising broke out he took a sabbatical and joined the fighters in Syria. They interviewed the doctor while he treated the photojournalists for their wounds sustained during their failed attempt to escape from captivity.

Further, BBC4’s Radio Today program has revealed the growing number of Britons fighting in Syria. Security Correspondent Frank Gardner travelled to Birmingham to investigate the news. He found that many young Britons are travelling to Turkey and easily crossing the border in order to participate in the conflict.

British Muslims have more sense of belonging than their white counterparts

30 June 2012

 

In a recent research entitled Understanding Society carried out by the Institute for Social and Economic Research it was found that British Muslims feel more strongly about their British identities.

 

The research enjoyed a wide participation of around 40,000 UK households. Those of Pakistani origin scored highest in the research and Bengalis and Indians shared the second place in their sense of belonging to Britain. Further, the second and third generation migrants had more sense of belonging than their parents.

The results of the research clearly contradict with the general perception that Muslims are not willing to integrate into the society. The research is accessible from the following link:

http://research.understandingsociety.org.uk/files/research/findings/Understanding-Society-Findings-2012.pdf

16 British Muslims are travelling to Bosnia as part of a charity project

22 June 2012

 

Made in UK, a London based charity is taking 16 young Muslim volunteer a month-long programme to Bosnia & Herzegovina. They are travelling to the region to live and work with families around Srebrenica.

 

The programme aims to revive the concept of a journey as an act of learning and enrichment, while providing volunteers with valuable experience of life in a region that is recovering from brutal conflict.