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Senior politicians, academics, religious leaders from the Muslim community have appealed to the Asian families to engage with their children to stem the radicalisation of the younger generation.

Prime Minister Cameron interacting with Muslim children during a mosque visit
Prime Minister Cameron interacting with Muslim children during a mosque visit

Afzal Khan, former Manchester mayor and  Labour’s newly elected MEP from North West, said some of the Asian parents are not even devoting enough quality time to guide the children to lead a normal life.

“‘Parents must take an active interest in their children’s lives as they are growing up, giving them the right support and direction early on,” said Cllr Khan, one of the most senior and influential Muslim politician in the country. “Community leaders, particularly mosque imams, must also do the same, understanding that part of their role is to reach out and connect with our youth.’

Unofficial reports say about 1,500 young British Muslims have been recruited to fight holy war (Jihad) with the military group ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham).

Cllr Afzal Khan MEP with Labour leader Ed Milband
Cllr Afzal Khan MEP with Labour leader Ed Milband

Khalid Mahmood MP from Birmingham estimates that this number could be on the low end and said that the ‘radicalisation of young British men is a problem that has steadily grown’

“The worry is that, should they return to the UK, these embattled youth could carry out acts of violence and aggression here too,” the veteran leader said.  “The parents of these young people, not previously aware of their children’s plans, are shocked and devastated and have made live appeals to their sons to return home. It is felt, however, that communication with children at this stage is a little too late.”

“Young British Muslims are vulnerable,” Cllr Khan added.  “With Muslims constantly targeted by the media, all the complex conflict and strife taking place in parts of the Muslim world today, the disconnect and isolation young people feel from their own community, and with current government failing them, it is not hard to see how they could be taken in by radical groups who may lend the listening ear no one else has.

“Our government needs to take a different approach to young British Muslims. The government must start engaging by listening to them, providing the help and support they are yearning for and by resolving any issues using the means of compassion, understanding and good will.  Anything else will simply fail.

“Muslims living in Britain feel British and over whelming express a love for this country just as much as anyone else. Instead of being treated like outsiders, they must be given an equal platform of engagement.   More Muslims need to feel they are being welcomed into the system, and approaches like Michael Gove’s Trojan Horse, which is deeply flawed on a number of fronts, only does the opposite by fuelling more mistrust and division.

Mistrust and division then leads to adverse reactions which are counted as rising extremism.  It is easy to confuse issues – disillusioned, dejected youth making bad choices about how to relieve their pain is not the same as violent extremism.   It is not to say we don’t have an issue at hand, but it is to say we cannot treat the two in the same way.”

Cllr  Khan further stated ‘our government’s strategy so far has not made the distinction between disillusioned youth and extremism. As a result it has misdiagnosed the situation and only deepened a wound that could have healed by now.  I call on all parents, Imams, community leaders and government authorities to make a concerted effort to provide the right sort of support, funding and direction for our young people so that we can win the battle against the true extremists out there. ’

Sheikh Zane Abdo, imam at Cardiff’s South Wales Islamic Centre, said parents should know where their children are going, whom they are talking to. Is there any extremists or people glorifying drugs in their social media circle.

Cardiff politicians and religious leaders in the city also issued a joint statement underlining their commitment to work together to fight extremism.The cross-party, cross-denominational statement said the group was committed to “redouble our efforts to act together to tackle those who seek to exploit and mislead our young people, and expose them to the siren words of manipulative extremists”.

Meanwhile, Portsmouth city council printed leaflets with the headline: “Syria … what’s the real story?”, which detail the dangers likely to be encountered by anyone who travels to the country either for humanitarian reasons or to fight, have been distributed outside the mosque.

According to police, at least eight men and two teenage girls have travelled from the naval port to Turkey and on into Syria in the last six months. Ifthekar Jaman, a former public schoolboy who worked in customers services at Sky in the city, was killed while taking part in an Isis assault on an arms depot in December.

President of the Jami mosque, Abdul Jalil said: We are working with the Red Cross to arrange for a representative from the local community to go with the humanitarian organisation to Syria to see how they are helping the people, and to bring that message back here. We hope that will help.”

Mosque leaders say they have no problem if those who have gone to Syria are arrested on their return.

 

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