As a working class Muslim, I know what causes radicalisation. So why don’t these rich white men believe me?

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.

David Cameron Says Muslims Will ‘Despair’ At BBC Use Of Term ‘Islamic State’

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.

 

Zahid: UK wants to learn from Malaysia’s successful rehab model for militants

The United Kingdom has shown interest in tapping into Malaysia’s model for the deradicalisation of militants and religious groups, which has a 95 per cent success rate, Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi has said.

Zahid, who is also the home minister, was reported saying by local daily Utusan Malaysia that the UK also plans to send its officers to visit Malaysia’s militant rehabilitation centre.

“The UK has different backgrounds and they are interested in our model because as an Islamic country, we have more experience and knowledge in facing these militant and radical groups,” he was quoted saying yesterday in London during a four-day working visit focusing on security, terrorism and immigration issues.

Zahid said Malaysia’s deradicalisation programme, which was carried out since 1948 to counter the threats posed by communists then, has been further refined following new counter-terrorism experiences to its current mode with 18 fields.

This programme involves the police, the Department of Islamic Development Malaysia (Jakim), the Prisons Department of Malaysia, Muslim non-governmental organisations, Islamic scholars from institutions of higher learning and pondok (Islamic schools) that have the skill “to correct wrong faith”, Zahid said.

The deputy prime minister said the US, Australia, Saudi Arabia, Yemen and all Asean member countries have also expressed commitment to learn from Malaysia’s model of rehabilitating militants.

Zahid was also reported saying that he had agreed with the UK security agency to use the word Daesh instead of Islamic State (IS) to describe the terrorist group in Syria and Iraq, as the IS term gave the wrong impression of Islam which does not carry teachings for its followers to be terrorists.

“I also ask the media to use the Daesh term to replace IS terrorists,” he said.

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak was recently reported telling the United Nations in New York that Malaysia was leading the Asian region in combating terrorism, including the spreading of IS beliefs.

Warsi: Cameron wrong to target British Muslims over radicalisation

David Cameron is at risk of demoralising British Muslims with his “misguided emphasis” on saying that some people in the community are quietly condoning Islamist extremism, according to a former cabinet colleague and Conservative party co-chair. Writing in the Guardian, Lady Warsi said the prime minister may have further alienated Muslims with a speech about tackling radicalisation, which he made on Friday.

She warned that Cameron and ministers lacked the credibility to demand that British Muslims do more to weed out extremism when the government was itself failing to adequately champion and support them – although she said she did support the prime minister’s anti-extremist intention.

Criticising Cameron’s heavy focus on “Muslim community complicity”, Warsi wrote:“My concern is that this call to Muslims to do more, without an understanding of what they already do now, will demoralise the very people who will continue to lead this fight. As one prominent female Muslim activist told me: ‘This speech has undermined what I’ve been doing.’
“David Cameron is right that there are ‘some’ – a minority within a minority within a minority – who condone the Isis view of the world, but there are many, many, many more of this minority who are fighting a very real and sustained battle, the same battle he is fighting. They know they have to do more, they are willing to do more but they will do it a lot better knowing we are on the same side. “The government needs to champion them, support them. Only then will it
have the credibility to demand that communities themselves do more.”

Sayeeda Warsi criticised David Cameron for giving his radicalisation speech in Bratislava rather than Bradford or Birmingham. Photograph: Paul Cooper/Rex
Sayeeda Warsi criticised David Cameron for giving his radicalisation speech in Bratislava rather than Bradford or Birmingham. Photograph: Paul Cooper/Rex

The outspoken intervention came after Cameron told a global security summit in Slovakia. Cameron chose to make his speech at a time of heightened concerns about Britons travelling to Syria and Iraq to join Islamic State.

Islamic community to fight against radicalisation of Irish Muslims

luck-of-the-irish-run-dry-islam-sharia
(Image: Craig Considine)

 

Ireland’s Islamic community is to spearhead the fightback against radical fundamentalism after a top Imam admitted there has been a surge in Islamophobia nationwide in the wake of recent terror attacks.

Shaykh Dr Muhammad Umar Al-Qadri launched a website for Irish Muslims aimed at helping youngsters to avoid radicalisation and to allow those concerned about so-called ‘Jihad messages’ from radical preachers at Irish mosques to raise the alarm.

The website – www.jihad.info – was launched at Waterford Institute of Technology (WIT) where Dr Al-Qadri warned that Irish people needed to realise that Islam was a religion of peace and tolerance and not violence. He admitted it was a particularly difficult time for Irish Muslims who were fast becoming a target of hate attacks.

“People feel very isolated and very worried,” he told the Irish Independent.

Britain is losing the fight against Radicalisation

Having undertaken the “most significant domestic program by any Western country to foster a moderate version of Islam and prevent radicalization,” said James Brandon, former head of research at the Quilliam Foundation, “the UK has effectively given up trying to stop jihadists from being created.”
Part of the difficulty is in identifying those who might launch attacks in Britain or be drawn to fight in Iraq or Syria. A study by researchers at Queen Mary University lists the social groups most susceptible to extremism: people suffering from depression, those who are isolated and, surprisingly, those whose families have lived in Britain for several generations and are financially well off. The findings chime with other studies. Religious ideology does not appear to be a major influencing factor. Many of those seeking to fight in Syria and Iraq have poor knowledge of Islam. They are motivated by images they have seen online or are lured by a sense of adventure.
The crucial battleground in the radicalization struggle is the internet, and it’s a fight the authorities have been losing. What is needed instead is a propaganda war to undermine the message of extremists, said Julian Lewis, a member of parliament’s Intelligence and Security Committee, the body charged with overseeing the work of Britain’s security agencies. But, Muslim groups say little or no progress can be made on radicalization until politicians confront the elephant in the room – the foreign policy of Britain and its allies.

Europe Needs to Embrace Islam by Jocelyne Cesari

August 29, 2014

Counter to the common interpretation, the appeal of radical anti-Western groups like ISIS among European Muslims is not driven primarily by socioeconomic deprivation. In fact, three interrelated factors play a more significant role.

The first is the powerful presence of the Salafi version of Islam in the religious market of ideas. This is problematic because even as most Muslims in the West are not Salafis and the majority of Salafis are not jihadists, it happens that groups like Al Qaiada and ISIS have a Salafi background. It means that their theological view comes from a particular interpretation of Islam rooted in Wahhabism, an eighteenth century doctrine adopted by the Saudi kingdom. In the West, Salafis incite people to withdraw from mainstream society, depicted as impure, in order to live by strict rules. These reactionary interpretations do contain similarities with jihadist discourse.

The second factor in the radicalization of Muslim youth is the increase of discriminatory policies vis-à-vis Islamic practices in Europe, including the use of the hijab and regulation of mosque minarets, circumcision and halal food. All contribute to a growing sense among Muslims that they are not accepted as full members of European society. Anti-immigration and anti-Islamic discourse translates into discriminatory practices in employment, housing and political activities. It can be a factor in strengthening a defensive identification within Islam and therefore gives more leverage to any ideology that pits the West against Muslims.

Third, the collapse of all major ideologies in Europe — nationalism, Communism, and liberalism — has left room for new radical options. For some young Europeans, adherence to radical Islam provides a viable alternative ideology, comparable to that of radical leftist groups in the 1970s.

These factors reveal a lack of true integration of Muslims as European policies have prioritized socioeconomic measures. In other words, political efforts are needed to put an end to the ‘ghettoization’ of Islam, which is often depicted as alien and incompatible with Western core liberal values. It means that geopolitical issues like the “war on terror” should be disconnected as much as possible from Islam and its adherents and their practices. Europe, and to a certain extent the U.S., face a major political challenge, which is the inclusion of Islam within their respective national narratives. It is a huge symbolic task, equivalent to the undertaking that led to the integration of the African-American past and legacy into the dominant American narrative.

**Jocelyne Cesari is senior research fellow at the Berkley Center for Religion, Peace and World Affairs at Georgetown University, and director of the Islam in the West Program at Harvard University. She is the author of “Why the West Fears Islam: An Exploration of Muslims in Liberal Democracies” and “The Awakening of Muslim Democracy: Religion, Modernity, and the State.”

The “Islamic State” in Germany

August 16, 2014

The terror of the Islamic and State and Levante (ISIL) has been the focus of German public and media. Politicians and security authorities have raised their concern, with regards to recent religious based conflicts in some German cities. In Herford, jihadi adherents supporting ISIL attacked and injured members of the Yezidi minority living in Germany. The Yezidi were protesting for the protection of their religious community, which has been threatened and attacked in Iraq.

While Gemany´s political class is debating whether or not to engage in Iraq, a domestic political debate rises about the proper security measures towards ISIL and its adherents in Germany. Ulla Jelple, domestic speaker of the left-wing party (die Linke) argued in favor of a legal ban. The domestic political speaker of the conservative Christian Democratic Party (CDU) Wolfgang Bosbach demanded tighter legal measures for terrorist associations. A high ranking security officer from Northrhine-Westphalia welcomed the idea to extend possible legal ban procedures as “very helpful”. Legally, ISIL cannot be banned as there is no structure meaning no association, which would be recognized and identified as such. Other politicians introduced the suggestion to deport “extremist” foreigners, who have been recognized as members of ISIL. Volker Kauder (CDU) expressed his concerns about an import of the Iraq conflict to Germany demanding a stronger commitment of Muslim associations against radicalism and violence.

Luton woman Runa Khan admits Facebook Syria terror posts

July 31, 2014

A woman has admitted inciting terrorism in Syria by posting a picture of a suicide vest and messaging details of a route into the country on Facebook. Kingston Crown Court heard Runa Khan, 34, of Maple Road West, Luton, sent messages about the route from Turkey to Syria to an undercover police officer. She pleaded guilty to four charges of disseminating terrorist publications between July and September 2013. She is due to be sentenced on 9th September.

The hearing was also told that Khan sent messages to an undercover officer describing a path into war-torn Syria and the name of a group in the country to join. It heard she received details of the route from Mohammed Nahin Ahmed, who has admitted spending eight months in Syria fighting alongside an al Qaeda-linked terrorist group. Ahmed and childhood friend Yusuf Zubair Sarwar, both 22, from Birmingham, went to the country last May after contacting Islamic extremists. They each pleaded guilty at Woolwich Crown Court to one count of engaging in preparation of terrorism acts, earlier this month.

The Federal State of Hesse combating Salafism

July 30, 2014

The state of Hesse has confirmed to combat Salafism by initiating dialogue to primarily prevent young people from being radicalized. Beside counseling and instructing relatives, friends and teachers, Hesse is planning to establish a platform encouraging dialogical exchange for those affected. The initiative is part of the Violence Prevention Network (VPN). The Christian Democratic Party as well as the The Green Party welcomed the initiative and Jürgen Frömmich (The Green Party) emphasized that extremism can only be combated in the minds.