17 February 2011
The Government is to publish its review of Britain’s strategy to stop young British Muslims becoming radicalised and potentially committing terrorist acts. State money has been given to voluntary groups to help protect vulnerable youngsters from terrorist recruiters and the coalition might change the way projects are delivered. BBC spoke to former Communities Secretary Hazel Blears MP, and Hanif Qadir of the Active Change Foundation.
Over 800 people celebrated the ninth Annual The Muslim News Awards for Excellence — Britain’s longest standing Muslim awards event — Monday at London’s Grosvenor House. The coveted award ceremony recognised the very best of Muslim contribution to British society.
The special Judges award went to Birmingham-based graffiti artist Mohammed Ali. Other awards were distributed for all kinds of social commitment, including “fair, accurate and balanced reporting on an issue involving Muslims”, health, sports, arts, enterprise, good citizenship or community development. Winners were musician and oud-player Ahmed Mukhtar, Reverend Gilleasbuig MacMillan of Edinburgh, the Black and Asian Service in Alcohol and Narcotics (BASIAN) and 15-year-old Imran Sidat, who competes for England in freestyle karate and kickboxing, among many others.
Home Secretary Jacqui Smith was present at the ceremony, as were Communities Secretary Hazel Blears, Shadow Justice Secretary Dominic Grieve and Liberal Democrats Leader Nick Clegg, along with an audience of 800 invitees. The editor of the Muslim News, Ahmed Versi was pleased with the ceremony and believes the awards show how much British Muslims can contribute to the common good.
Foreign Secretary David Miliband, Home Secretary Jaqui Smith and Communities secretary Hazel Blears invited a few hundred Muslims to celebrate Eid with them at the prestigious Darbar Hall of the FCO recently. Also attended many ambassadors from Muslim countries, politicians from all parties, civil servants and media personalities. To welcome his guests, Mr. Miliband said, “The contribution of faith communities to our society and to our politics helps bring values back to the forefront of national life and that is very important, because in the end politics is about your head, it is about doing things that work but it’s also about your heart, and it’s also about deepest values, about justice, about responsibility and citizenship that bring us together.” In her speech the Home Secretary said, “The role that many of you have played in building strong communities in supporting the fundamental view that in the longterm the way that we will tackle terrorism is actually by celebrating the values that we she and deterring people from turning to violent extremism in the first place is absolutely fundamental and it’s the strength of what’s represented here that gives me faith that we will be able to do that in this country and internationally to turn against those who want just not to cause death and mayhem but who actually want to cause division between us in a way that I think the strength of this gathering this evening shows we’re not going to allow to happen.”
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Hazel Blears has said there will be “far more” work with Muslim communities to tackle radicalism, but ruled out talking to the most extreme groups. Ten years after US embassy bombings in Africa, the communities secretary said she wanted to help angry young people channel anger through democratic means. But it was not right for ministers to engage with those who justified suicide bombing or the destruction of Israel. A leading de-radicaliser says ministers should listen more to their grievances. As ceremonies mark the 10th anniversary of attacks on embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, BBC security correspondent Frank Gardner said al-Qaeda’s violent tactics had come under mounting criticism from Islamist scholars who had previously supported it. But former jihadi Hanif Qadir, who tries to steer young men in east London away from violence said the number of young British Muslims attracted to violent extremism was growing.http://themuslimweekly.com/newsdetails/fullstoryview.aspx?NewsID=2C57BA6BE87C5B080C795A24&MENUID=HOMENEWS&DESCRIPTION=UK%20News
Britain has taken the lead among Western countries with large resident Muslim communities to fund a board of Islamic theologians who will pronounce on some of the knottiest, most controversial issues of faith such as women’s rights and kamikaze religiosity, in what many see as an attempt to create an Anglo-Saxon version of Islam. The British body, which is yet to be given a name, will bring together 20 leading Islamist thinkers. It will be financially sponsored by the government but is advertised as committed to the baseline of independent thought, with no reference to political considerations. The British body will be distinct from its five-year-old French forbear, the Council for the Muslim Religion and will have more authority and weight than the UK’s most important, existing Muslim representative body, the Muslim Council of Britain. Analysts said the new British body has emerged as an attempt to sideline violent extremists who preach a hate-filled version of Islam dedicated to the destruction of Western systems and patterns of thought. The new British body, which was publicly endorsed as a good idea whose time has come by communities secretary Hazel Blears, will see Oxford and Cambridge Universities host a group of scholars to lead the debate on key British Muslim issues such as women’s rights and responsibilities and loyalty to the host country, Britain.
Muslim students are being encouraged to learn how to fly planes in a Salford University project. Eighty students – mostly from Muslim, black and minority ethnic backgrounds – have flown a glider or trainer aircraft as part of the scheme. The project, called Festival of Flight, is opening doors for students felt excluded from the world of flight in the wake of the 9/11 terror attacks on the World Trade Centre. It aims to ground stereotype views of young people from black and ethnic backgrounds. One student who took part is Rozaidah Abd Rahman, who co-piloted a two-seater plane. “I had the time of my life – when I landed, I couldn’t stop smiling and saying `awesome’. I recommend everyone to experience flying at least once in their life. The 9/11 and 7/7 tragedies have hit the spirits of many young people, especially Muslims and this festival uses the flight theme to open their eyes. “It creates a forum whereby different people – who would not meet otherwise can come together and exchange ideas and experiences,” she said. A photo exhibition on the project will be opened by Salford MP and Communities Minister Hazel Blears. The exhibition is part of the Festival at the university, which will also be attended by aircrew from the RAF and United States Air Force, light aircraft pilots and balloonists.http://themuslimweekly.com/newsdetails/fullstoryview.aspx?NewsID=12419045CE564D364E07CD82&MENUID=HOMENEWS&DESCRIPTION=UK%20News
New guidance to help and support local authorities, schools, community groups and the police in tackling violent extremism and prevent radicalisation in communities was launched on Tuesday by the government. Home Secretary Jacqui Smith, Communities Secretary Hazel Blears and Children, Schools and Families Secretary Ed Balls rolled out their counter terrorism strategy which hopes to prevent people getting involved with violent extremism. The new guidance offers advice about how to turn the Government’s strategy into practical measures that make a real difference in communities. It includes advice about how to work with vulnerable individuals and institutions to counter radicalisation, support mainstream voices and increase the capacity of communities to challenge and resist violent extremists. To support new initiatives, the Home Office is providing an extra _12.5 million in 2008/9 to fund projects specifically to support institutions or individuals vulnerable to radicalisation.http://themuslimweekly.com/newsdetails/fullstoryview.aspx?NewsID=037EA360E57F561F05CFD5D3&MENUID=HOMENEWS&DESCRIPTION=UK%20News
Mothers and aunts will be asked to help fight extremism in Muslim communities, Local Government Secretary Hazel Blears has revealed. Ministers are to draw up new plans to bring “ordinary people” on board, particularly women. It follows admissions that the Government has placed too much emphasis on the role of people identified as “community leaders” in the past. The new policy was welcomed by Birmingham MP Khalid Mahmood – as he warned that traditional approaches to preventing extremism were flawed. Mahmood reportedly said: “We have relied on organisations which have failed the community, and on community leaders who had definitely failed the community.” Blears said the new policy was modelled on a campaign to reduce drug use in ethnic minority communities, with recruited dinner ladies to spread the message. Peer Lord Patel of Bradford, who drew up the anti-drugs campaign, is leading a Government review into preventing extremism.http://www.themuslimweekly.com/newsdetails/fullstoryview.aspx?NewsID=4C379A4BC85C7BE8FB483DF4&MENUID=HOMENEWS&DESCRIPTION=UK%20News
Employers have backed a positive action campaign to attract more Muslim women into the workplace. Communities secretary Hazel Blears called on employers and local authorities to step up the number of projects that encourage Muslim women into work. But the UK’s largest umbrella body the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) said that although it welcomed the initiative it was “disappointed that the initiative is linked to the prevention of violent extremism”. In a statement, MCB said: “There is not a shred of evidence that Muslim mothers could have prevented the tragedy of 7 July 2005 and other subsequent plots which fortunately did not come to fruition.” It said that an “honest debate” was needed to discover the underlying causes without which success would not be achieved in eradicating the roots of violent extremism.http://www.themuslimweekly.com/newsdetails/fullstoryview.aspx?NewsID=CAB61CC94ADAF99B39FB881A&MENUID=HOMENEWS&DESCRIPTION=UK%20News
Senior officials and experts from Britain and France agreed Thursday to recruit more Muslims to help fight the spread of radical Islam in their countries. Some of the officials, who met at the British embassy in Paris, told journalists that the governments were not aiming at imposing quotas but rather “recruitment objectives”. The need to have Muslims in the police and other administrations was made clear in the investigation into the July attacks on London’s transport system, which found that the bombers came from Britain’s Muslim community. One official, Mark Carroll, head of the Cohesion, Faith and Equalities unit of Britain’s Home Office, said that “the public services can only effectively serve the communities if they include representatives from those communities.” Home Office Minister Hazel Blears said that Britain and France had to find ways to channel the anger often nurtured in their respective Muslim communities into legal avenues, and that part of the anger stemmed from a feeling of being misunderstood by authorities. Hiring more Muslims to communicate with those communities would be one way of attenuating that feeling of alienation, she said.