Prevention is better than a cure. A proverb that was probably the inspiration for government strategy intended to combat the spread of extremist Islamic views, Prevent.
As Theresa May calls for Universities to drop their complacency and be more aware of the ideologies being bred on their campuses, I ask, how do you even prevent terrorism?
Clearly, I’m not equipped to know what exactly motivates somebody towards extremist religious views. But as a theologian (well, a philosophy and theology graduate), and as a 23 year old British Indian, I have my own insight – be it correct or not.
The key for me is identity. A sense of belonging. When economic motivations found Indians and Pakistanis entering the UK en masse, I guess identity wasn’t exactly something the travellers considered. But, as a member of the transitional generation I’ve witnessed the difficulties young people have had in this respect. My parents both predominantly grew up in England so it is a problem that I, personally, have never faced.
Though many peers in my generation have found it difficult to marry a traditional Indian / Pakistani upbringing, usually founded in religion, with life growing up in a Western culture that has endured the 60s 70s and 80s.
Why? Well, it’s simple. If you look at the traditional views on dating, sexual relations, drinking and education and contrast it with that of the more sociologically liberal Western views it’s clear, there’s a conflict. It is that conflict which was probably difficult for young people to reconcile, especially when they can see it from both view points. They are British Indians / Pakistanis that ‘belong’ neither in Britain nor the country their parents hold so dear.
So how does this identity, or therefore lack of, have any relevance to extremists and terrorists? Well, maybe that is where the problem stems. It could be the frustration of being caught in conflict that manifests itself in acceptance of an ideal that gives a person a purpose, a goal and a voice. Something that gives them an identity.
Theresa May said ‘there’s an ideology out there that we need to challenge’. She thinks that Universities need to be more aware of what philosophies are being bred on their campuses. She accuses them of complacency and indicates that University is a hot bed when it comes to a sharing of personal utopian ideologies.
I think she’s right. I spent many a night at University challenging, yet appreciating, the wealth of different political, sociological and religious views my friends had. But, Prevent’s lack of success maybe means there is reason to go further than challenging. Past where the places these creeds multiply and into why, to some, these ideas are attractive.
Orwell taught us in ‘1984’ that an iron hand can never stop a rebellion; current affairs prove this. I’m not convinced you can thwart extremists through excessive monitoring. Picking and choosing Muslims you’re willing to fund doesn’t appear to be working. So my advice to Theresa May is, find a new angle. Maybe then, Prevent will be an apt name.
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Filed in: British Identity,Terrorism