What Britain needs to fight terrorism is evidence – not ideology

muslim women in UK

Pupils from Eden Girls’ School arrive for a vigil in London on 5 June to commemorate the victims of London Bridge attacks. Photograph: Daniel Leal-Olivas/AFP/Getty. The Muslim Times has the best collection of articles on the theme of counter terrorism

Source: The Guardian

By Sayeeda Warsi; Lady Warsi is the former co-chairman of the Conservative party

We need to think afresh about the Prevent strategy: the Muslim community wants it, and Theresa May’s four-point plan is a step in the right direction

Malign voices have been heard in the past 48 hours – blaming a community of 3 million for the indiscriminate violence of three men. Calls for internment, Muslim bans, treason charges and even an end to Islam in Britain. Commentators on the extreme fringe have used the emotional state of the nation to peddle hateful agendas.

As news of the London Bridge atrocity filtered through, I was at St James’s Church in Piccadilly, central London, at an interfaith event to celebrate Ramadan and our shared values, and what struck me most was the raging anger of the young Muslims there. As one simply put it: “I despise these men who kill our fellow citizens in the name of my faith.”

British Muslims face what I call the double whammy of terrorism. They are as likely to be victims or terrorism, because these attacks are indiscriminate but they also face the inevitable backlash. A sentiment which further feeds the hate. And it’s this vicious cycle of violence feeding violence and hate feeding hate that the next government must address.As the investigations of the Westminster, Manchester and London Bridge attacks unfold we are seeing some common features. The perpetrators were people of interest – known to the security services or police as people who had been radicalised. And at least three of the five had been reported to the authorities by their families, friends and communities. I take some comfort from that. We knew who they were, we knew they were a problem, and the community reported them. So the desire from communities to work together is there. That’s what we need to build on. Out of the horror of this weekend, we have a unique opportunity to get this right.

Theresa May has set out her four-point plan to tackle terrorism. I agree with much of it. We need to close down the space online and offline for terrorists to recruit and radicalise, and we must challenge the ideology that preachers of hate use to justify violence. I welcome the prime minister’s call for a review of the counter-terrorism strategy, Contest. But most of all we must think afresh about the Prevent programme.

Prevent is a fantastic idea. But its implementation has had huge flaws
For many years, I have said that the concept of Prevent – upstream intervention led and trusted by communities – is a fantastic idea. But the implementation has had huge flaws. The only definition of extremism that exists in government is Islamist extremism, even though over a third of the referrals to the Prevent or Channel programmes relate to far-right extremists. The definition is a symptom of a longstanding problem in counter-terrorism where policy has been made not on the basis of evidence or expert opinion but on the ideological whims of individual politicians. And if we think the definition we have now is bad, you should have seen the one that was proposed.

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1 reply

  1. The British establishment is wrong in thinking that Imams are to blame for extremism. Imams are not solution to the problem for extremism. Extremism is nothing to do with Imams. Extremism is not created from abroad, it is coming from within. Britain fails to help Muslim communities feel part of British society. Race trouble is being predicted by the Daily Express, because of an ethnic boom in UK major cities. Muslim communities need imams for the solutions of their needs and demands in their own native languages. Muslim parents would like to see their children well versed in Standard English and to go for higher studies and research to serve humanity. The fact is that majority of Muslim children leave schools with low grades because monolingual teachers are not capable to teach Standard English to bilingual Muslim children. A Muslim is a citizen of this tiny global village. He/she does not want to become notoriously monolingual Brit.

    None of 7/7 bombers and British Muslim youths who are in Syria and Iraq are the product of Muslim schools. They are the product of British schooling which is the home of institutional racism with chicken racist native teachers. It is absurd to believe that Muslim schools, Imams and Masajid teach Muslim children anti-Semitic, homophobic and anti-western views. It is dangerously deceptive and misleading to address text books and discuss them out of their historical, cultural and linguistic context.

    A report by the Institute for Community Cohesion found that native parents were deserting some schools after finding their children out numbered by pupils from ethnic minorities. Schools in parts of England are becoming increasingly segregated. The study focused on 13 local authorities. Many of the schools and colleges are segregated and this was generally worsening over recent years. This is RACISM because British society is the home of institutional racism. My statement regarding Muslim schools where there is no place for non-Muslim child or a teacher is based on educational process and not on racism. Muslim children need Muslim teachers during their developmental periods. For higher studies and research, Muslim teacher is not a priority.

    A study claims that Black and Asian pupils are being held back in the classroom because schools are “institutionally racist”. Let the minority communities educate their own children and you better educate your children for the well being of the British society. Islamic schools protect Muslim children from the onslaught of Euro-centrism, homosexuality, racism, and secular traditions.

    It is easy to say” Go back to where you came from”, but do not forget that British Muslims are actually born and educated here. They are in the unenviable position of trying to combine two different worlds. That is no easy. We do not want to change you lot but we would like to see our children getting balanced Islamic education along with National Curriculum. We would like our children to learn and be well versed in standard English to follow the National Curriculum and go for higher studies and research to serve humanity. At the same time we would like our children to learn and be well versed in Arabic, Urdu and other community languages to keep in touch with their cultural roots and enjoy the beauty of their literature and poetry. A Muslim is a citizen of this tiny global village. He/she does not want to become notoriously monolingual Brit. Bilingualism is an asset but British schooling regards it as a problem.

    Native Brits must learn to respect and tolerate those who are different. Stop treating foreigners like garbage and they will stop ruining your precious country. Why did you let them in in the first place if you didn’t want them here? They left everything in their countries because of your promises. Are you so anxious to please that you can’t say “no”? I would love to see you go to a foreign land where you don’t have any friends, you don’t even know anyone and you don’t speak the language, and start from scratch. I would just LOVE to watch you do that. Let them integrate and stop segregating them. What I want is people being nice to each other. I don’t care about race.

    Speaking English does not promote integration into British, American and Australian societies, and broaden opportunities. English speaking Muslim youths are angry, frustrated and extremist, thanks to state schools with monolingual non-Muslim teachers and English language. English language is not only a lingua franca but also lingua frankensteinia. Human right are also covers linguistic right. Cultural and linguistic genocide are very common. British schooling is murdering community languages like Arabic, Urdu and others. English is today the world killer language. Linguistic genocide is a crime against humanity and British schooling is guilty of committing this crime. Language is not just a language. It defines one’s culture, identity and consciousness. It defines how we think, communicate and express ourselves. The fact is the most South Asian Muslims have come to know Islam by way of Urdu, the children’s alienation from the language that connects them the heritage of their parents and grandparents is disturbing. As a matter of fact, one has to get to know his mother tongue well if one is to master any other language.

    There will never be an end to extremism and terrorism as long as Muslim children keep on attending state schools with non-Muslim teachers. Muslim children need state funded Muslim schools with Muslim teachers during their developmental periods. Muslim children must develop their cultural, spiritual and linguistic identities before they are exposed to wider world, otherwise, they would be lost in western jungle. It is a crime against humanity to send Muslim children to state schools with non-Muslim teachers. Children from minority groups, especially the Muslims, are exposed to the pressure of racism, multiculturalism and bullying. They suffer academically, culturally and linguistically: a high proportion of children of Pakistani and Bangladeshi origin are leaving British schools with low grades or with no qualification. The demand for state funded Muslim schools is nothing to do with integration or segregation. It is purely an educational issue.

    You better teach your children in your own schools and let migrant communities teach their children according to their needs and demands. British Establishment and society should concentrate on the evils of their own society and stop trying to change the way of life of Muslims. Muslim community does not want to integrate with the British society, indulging in incivility, anti-social behaviour, drug and knife culture, binge drinking, teenage pregnancies and abortion. Prince Charles, while visiting the first grant maintained Muslim school in north London, said that the pupils would be the future ambassadors of Islam. But what about thousands of others, who attend state schools deemed to be “sink schools”? In education, there should be a choice and at present it is denied to the Muslim community. In the late 80s and early 90s, when I floated the idea of Muslim community schools, I was declared a “school hijacker” by an editorial in the Newham Recorder newspaper in east London. This clearly shows that the British media does not believe in choice and diversity in the field of education and has no respect for those who are different. Muslim schools, in spite of meager resources, have excelled to a further extent this year, with couple of schools achieving 100% A-C grades for five or more GCSEs. They beat well resourced state and independent schools in Birmingham and Hackney. Muslim schools are doing better because a majority of the teachers are Muslim. The pupils are not exposed to the pressures of racism, multiculturalism and bullying.

    There are hundreds of state primary and secondary schools where Muslim pupils are in majority. In my opinion all such schools may be opted out to become Muslim Academies. This mean the Muslim children will get a decent education. Muslim schools turned out balanced citizens, more tolerant of others and less likely to succumb to criminality or extremism. Muslim schools give young people confidence in who they are and an understanding of Islam’s teaching of tolerance and respect which prepares them for a positive and fulfilling role in society. Muslim schools are attractive to Muslim parents because they have better discipline and teaching Islamic values. Children like discipline, structure and boundaries. Bilingual Muslim children need Bilingual Muslim teachers as role models during their developmental periods, who understand their needs and demands.

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