One in four foreign fighters to have joined ISIS are alleged to be British. The man, now known as Jihadi John, appearing in the disturbing beheading videos is also British. Schools in Britain are increasingly at risk of radicalization. Why is the governments prevent strategy failing, when millions of pounds is being invested in it yearly?
Prevent is an integral part of CONTEST, the governments counter terrorism strategy. Its main aim is to stop people becoming terrorists or supporting terrorist activity in the UK and abroad. However, as we have seen in recent months, this has been failing miserably. Whilst Prevent do the best they can to tackle the rise of extremism in the UK, their efforts are aimed in the wrong direction. Training teachers and religious leaders to tackle the rise of extremism may be a good idea but there is now a bigger threat to our national security than just radical outspoken fanatics like Anjum Choudhary and his group of cronies.
The Internet has opened up a world of free media and publicity for terror groups like ISIS who use it to the best of their ability to promote and publicize their beliefs. Youngsters disillusioned by life in the UK, brainwashed by radical clerics, influenced by friends, now have easy access to a world of terror that is being made to look like heaven.
Whilst on the ground, ISIS is riding on their recent conquests despite air raids being rained down on them, their media team is busy promoting their beliefs on social media sites such as twitter and YouTube, reaching out to Westerners contemplating taking the plunge to fight abroad. Whilst ISIS do not represent Islam in their actions, beliefs and ideas because they claim to fly the flag of Islam,
speak the language of the Quran in their messages and testify that their enemy is the West many youngsters believe that they are the real deal and if they were to join ISIS they would be granted heaven in the hereafter.
Western states such as the UK and USA have to seriously rethink their foreign policy, especially in the Middle East where the Palestine-Israeli rift once again stroked flames of fire and anger in the West during the summer. Whilst the West turn a blind eye to Israel’s illegal actions in Palestine, their behaviour against Arab states in the same regions rings the hypocrisy bell in the minds of many. The rise of extremism in the UK has a lot to do with our foreign policy yet the government refuse to address this problem. Whilst they continue to place the blame everywhere else, they must realize that until they take action of their own this problem is not going to go away just by censoring the Internet, shutting down schools or arresting scores of potential extremists.
With the Muslim youth increasingly feeling like they are being targeted because of their religion it is essential we integrate them into the society and make it known that they are as valuable to Britain as every other race and religion. Whilst Citizenship lessons in schools are a good incentive to spread integration and tolerance, the curriculum is just not doing enough to spread that message. The education department needs to look at the curriculum and ensure that whilst students learn about human rights and laws, they are also involved in campaigns that further their knowledge on integration and tolerance rather than just reading from a text book. Tackling extremism is in no way an easy job for the government especially as the internet and social forums have opened up so many doors for people to get information that could easily influence their way of thinking and radicalize them, but if we tackle the problem from the roots, if we ensure the Muslim youth know they are valuable to the British society, they would help rather than hinder the fight against extremism.
The only way to tackle extremism in the UK is to get young Muslims involved in the fight against extremism instead of wasting millions on a strategy that is clearly not working.
By Sajidah Patel, Junior Writer for Daily Political View.