Muslim families across Britain are being urged to take action if they suspect a loved one might be planning to travel to Iraq or Syria through an innovative nationwide campaign.
The Families Matter campaign was welcomed to Leicester at an event hosted by the Federation of Muslim Organisations; part of a national community tour across the UK, including Leicester, Leeds, Liverpool, Luton and Stoke-on-Trent.
Launched in July 2014 by community based organisation FAST (Families Against Stress and Trauma), the Families Matter campaign is based around a powerful film which reveals the pain and suffering felt by those family members who have lost loved ones to Syria and Iraq.
The regional tour also supports the launch of a new website www.familiesmatter.org.uk that has been developed to help give parents the tools and information they need to be able to spot the signs that their child is being targeted by extremists and is the only one of its kind in the UK.
Through a series of workshops, film showcases and one-to-one advice, each of the events aim to reach out to parents and families to empower them to tackle this threat to children.
The Leicester event was attended by FAST’s founder, Saleha Jaffer, who said: “The Families Matter campaign tour aims to highlight the importance of the issue of radicalisation and we hope that today we provided helpful practical advice to families concerned about a loved one.”
Saleha Jaffer presented the campaign film which features three families talking candidly of their experiences.
Speaking in the film, Helen, whose son went to Syria said: “It was just anguish and fear and living a constant life of horror. You feel guilty if you smile because you don’t know if they are dead or alive.”
Saleha Jaffer, added: “Enough is enough. We can no longer sit by and watch as children from across the country are stolen from families by the lies and false promises made by extremists.
“As parents it is important that we take responsibility and play our part in stopping children travelling to Iraq or Syria, which is in most cases a one-way ticket, to join perpetrators of the most evil and heinous crimes.
“It is vital that we understand the risks our children face and are able to engage with them in order to have a frank and honest two-way conversation about this complicated subject.
“Today’s event provided an open forum for families to discuss this difficult issue, raise concerns and receive practical advice. I hope that this nationwide Families Matter tour means parents feel less alone, less uncertain and more informed and empowered to do all they can to save their children before it is too late.”
The Federation of Muslim Organisations (FMO) coordinated today’s event. Suleman Nagdi of the FMO, said:
“Families are at the heart of our community so we were very pleased to welcome FAST to Leicester today. We agree that families are key to preventing young people from travelling to Syria. This evening’s event was all about encouraging the community to talk openly about this complex issue and making sure parents know where they can turn to for help and advice.”