Radicalisation is the “the process of supporting or engaging in activities deemed (by others) as in violation of important social norms (e.g. the killing of civilians)”. In recent times, this issue of radicalisation has been a highlighted topic within our communities due to losses experienced as a result of extreme beliefs (Lambrecht. M, 2016).
In April 2016, it was reported by mail online that, the suspect responsible for the Brussels attack worked at the airport for five years. “A report also claims that a hidden prayer room was found at Brussels Airport shortly before the atrocity, ‘where radicalised staff would meet to pray in secret”. It was alleged that, the attacker in Brussels may have had links to the Paris attack last November in coordination with the attack at the metro station in the city.
The attacks mentioned killed many individuals, left others with life-threatening injuries and caused emotional trauma among a lot of families within various communities. Reasons for such extreme attacks are unclear but it is apparent that, it has and still is affecting our communities. The greater good of individuals from specific ethnic groups with Islamic believes are targets for hates crimes and are being discriminated against within society, as a result of the minorities’ extreme practices in the name of religion.
Our children and young people are being groomed and trained to believe that such beliefs are part of religion and should be practiced. There is no empirical evidence in the Quran to suggest that killing others, causing pain and dysfunction to families was a practice supported by Allah or Prophet Mohammed.
With a rise in such extreme practices, how do extremist accesses and groom our children?
The internet plays a huge role when it comes to extremists targeting our children and young people. Although the internet is a useful tool that provides us with education, entertainment and connects us, this platform is also a useful tool for extremist to communicate radical messages to our children.
A young person who is searching for answers about faith, identity and belonging might be drawn to such practices. A child who is driven by adventure, a need to raise self-esteem and “street cred” can be easily laud into such practices as well. As parents, elders, sisters and brothers our relationship with our children is the key factor to keeping them safe.
Ways to eliminate/ support our children and young people to staying safe includes:
- Listening to your child and keeping communication open.
- Allowing them to express and debate their views on local and world events.
- Knowing the social media sites they use and monitoring their online activity.
- Informing them that anyone who tells them to keep a secret from their family is likely to put them in danger.
- Teaching them to express their strong views without the need for violent behaviour.
- Helping them understand what the Quran, Vedas, Bible, Tripitaka or Bhagavad Gita teaches.
Towerhamlets (2015) published “Advice to Parents and Carers Keeping Children and Young People Safe against Radicalisation and Extremism” a guide, which advises parents and guardians about ways of keeping their children and young people safe. This guide is accessible to any person seeking for direction and advice regarding the issues of radicalisation.
We as a community need to take proactive steps in ensuring that, our religion is not misinterpreted and that we are not stigmatised as a result of extremist false ideology of the holy book.
If you are concerned that an individual may be influenced by extremist, talk to someone you can trust, your Imam, local leaders and extended families. If you feel that an individual is at risk of leaving the country, consider taking precautions of removing and locking away their passport in a safe place. Alternatively the police (999) or Anti-terrorist Hotline on (0800 789 321) can be contacted for support and advice.
References and Further Reading