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  • Tackling “extremism” is never that simple

    by guest
    7th June, 2011 at 9:51 am    

    guest post by Jasmine, who blogs at Liquorice Thoughts

    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

    15 Comments below   |  

    Reactions: Twitter, blogs
    1. sunny hundal

      Blogged: : Tackling "extremism" is never that simple

    2. The Bee

      Blogged: : Tackling "extremism" is never that simple

    3. Louisa Loveluck

      Blogged: : Tackling "extremism" is never that simple

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      Blogged: : Tackling "extremism" is never that simple

    1. cjcjc — on 7th June, 2011 at 10:21 am  

      Thoughtful piece, though in ’1984′ the iron hand does stop a rebellion!

    2. dougdevos — on 7th June, 2011 at 10:46 am  

      my advice to Theresa May is, find a new angle.
      promote good old liberal democratic politics, & relativise organised religions; (& maybe wait another generation or two?)

    3. Hemes — on 7th June, 2011 at 11:30 am  

      dougdevos - ‘relativise organised religion’ ??????

      WTF is that is English? This blog is beginning to disappear up its own arse with clever-dick social science jargon that leaves me in utter confusion. Maybe I’m just a bit simple…..

    4. Yahya Birt — on 7th June, 2011 at 12:41 pm  

      The report is due out today. Two things of interest have emerged out of the press reporting so far. Firstly that the Coalition is not agreed on the terms of engagement with groups/individuals deemed as non-violent extremists who are thought by some to have the ability to restrain the violent fringe; this division apparently even includes a couple of Conservative ministers who are closer to the LD line (if there is a single line, but Nick Clegg’s various interventions do seem to indicate that). The PM, Teressa May and others have sought to make their approach prevail. The second interesting thing is the focus on campuses, as opposed to say other institutions seen to be vulnerable to violent extremism, such as prisons. The government, or at least the majority of the Cabinet, thinks that the university authorities are not doing enough, and neither is the Federation of Islamic Student Societies (FOSIS).

      The published report may reveal more: for instance, some 20 Muslim community organisations have had their Prevent funding withdrawn. How much has this to do with cutting budgets and how much this has to do with new more stringent criteria is an open question at the present time, at least for me.

    5. Yahya Birt — on 7th June, 2011 at 1:03 pm  

      Here’s the response from FOSIS to Teressa May’s comments, which under the leadership of Nabil Ahmed has certainly been more proactive on this issue recently:

    6. Jemmy Hope — on 7th June, 2011 at 3:16 pm  

      I wonder if Ms May’s concern is in any way related to this complaint -

    7. damon — on 7th June, 2011 at 4:26 pm  

      There was a spokesman from FOSIS on Newsnight last night, and he seemed to think the only thing you had to worry about was things that were illegal.
      If someone does something illegal, prosecute them - and leave it at that was his view I think.
      I don’t support this idea of bans and snooping on students, but a university should have the right to not host certain speakers on it’s premises. And FOSIS and some of the student societies have a history of hosting extremists I think.
      I know that they invited Azzam Tamimi as a guest speaker to universities in Ireland for example.
      And he’s a hot-head who supports suicide bombings against civilians. Not illegal perhaps, but unwelcome on campus I would say.
      As for a ”spot the fag” competition .. would that be deemed unacceptable at a university?

    8. jamal — on 8th June, 2011 at 1:18 pm  

      another whitewash from the government.

      As long as you interfere or occupy other people’s country they will fight you. Doesn’t matter if it’s northern ireland, palestine or libya the people will resist.

      PREVENT stupid foreign policies would be a good start!

    9. cjcjc — on 8th June, 2011 at 3:01 pm  

      Where were the 7/7 bombers from?
      Dewsbury was it?
      I must have missed the occupation.

    10. jamal — on 8th June, 2011 at 4:14 pm  

      did occupation begin after 7/7 must have missed that one, i didn’t realize your political history began from 2005 onwards.

    11. cjcjc — on 8th June, 2011 at 4:48 pm  


      Let me ask the same thing another way.

      The 7/7 bombers came from which “occupied” country precisely?

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